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Martin Scorsese’s ‘Casino’ is 25 years old. Here’s a primer on its Jewish protagonist and Hollywood’s other Jewish gangsters.

Frank Rosenthal/Robert De Niro
The character of Sam Rothstein
in the movie “Casino”
was based on Rosenthal

By STEPHEN SILVER
(JTA) — “Casino,” Martin Scorsese’s examination of the mob’s control of Las Vegas in the 1960s and 70s, debuted in theaters on Nov. 22, 1995 — 25 years ago.

It may be a tick below “Goodfellas,” which came out just five years earlier, in terms of its reputation in the eyes of film historians. But the three-hour epic remains one of Scorsese’s most ambitious and gorgeously realized films. It also may be the best crime film with a Jewish protagonist at its center.
That was Sam “Ace” Rothstein, the character played in the film by Scorsese mainstay Robert De Niro. Rothstein is depicted as a Jewish associate of the Chicago Outfit, an expert bookmaker and sports handicapper who is sent to Vegas to run the Tangiers, one of the largest casinos on the Strip. The character is based on Frank Rosenthal, a real Jewish gambling expert from Chicago who had ties to the Chicago Outfit and eventually headed to Vegas to run casinos for them.
While the film is somewhat fictionalized, Rosenthal really did pioneer the idea of sports books in casinos, really did survive an assassination attempt by car bomb and really did have his license denied by a state gaming commission, which was led in real life by Harry Reid, before he was a senator.
Rothstein, as depicted in the film, is sort of a gangster, and sort of not; he is with the mafia, but not of the mafia, because of his ethnic identity. Like Henry Hill, the protagonist of “Goodfellas,” Rothstein can’t ever be a “made guy” because he’s not fully Sicilian.
However, Ace sees his work running the casino as having a certain degree of above-board legitimacy and is constantly worried that his longtime friend Nicky (Joe Pesci), a fully “made” mobster, is ruining that reputation with his loose cannon antics.

In the film, the viewer never hears Rothstein himself address his Jewishness or what it means to him, and he appears to lead a largely secular life. The topic is mentioned, however, by Pesci’s character, in a somewhat pejorative way.
“I gotta make sure no one f***s around with the golden Jew,” Nicky says at one point. As their relationship begins to sour, he says things like “Jew motherf*****,” and threatens to “take a piece out of your Jew ass.”
“Casino” also featured a supporting cast full of famous Jewish comedians, including Don Rickles, Alan King and Kevin Pollak.
In the end, Rothstein is the perfect symbol of how Jews could find great success in mid-20th century America — even in the crime world — yet remain outsiders, through no fault of their own.

After Frank Rosenthal’s death in 2008, it was revealed that he had long been an FBI informant. In an interview prior to his death, Rosenthal was asked whether his heritage protected him while dealing with underworld figures.
“No, when you excel at anything — my expertise was sports and thoroughbred wagering — you rise to a very high level,” he said. “Some people were impressed and took special notice that I could beat the odds. To have recognition, in my judgment, opened certain doors for me. It put me in a semi-celebrity category.”
Another fact surrounding the Rothstein character is that he was portrayed by the non-Jewish De Niro — something that could have raised eyebrows today. Of course, this can go the other way, too: Actor James Caan has said in interviews that he’s had to turn down “Italian-American of the Year” awards multiple times because even though he played Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather,” he is in fact the son of German Jewish immigrants.
Rothstein is far from the only major Jewish character in the canon of American gangster movies. Here’s a quick recap of some of the others:

-The “Godfather” movies featured a pair of prominent Jewish gangsters, both allies-turned-antagonists of the Corleone Family: Moe Greene (Alex Rocco) in the first film, and Hyman Roth (Lee Strasberg) in the second. The two men were based, respectively, on real-life Jewish gangsters Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and Meyer Lansky. Roth, like Lansky, would even seek political asylum in Israel — “I wished to live there as a Jew in the twilight of my life.”
Hyman Roth, according to a deleted scene in “The Godfather Part II,” was originally named Hyman Suchowsky — but the character changed his name out of admiration for the real-life Jewish gangster Arnold Rothstein (not to be confused with the fictional Ace), later shortening it to Roth. “I’ve loved baseball ever since Arnold Rothstein fixed the World Series in 1919,” the character says in the film.

-Hollywood has offered plenty of other depictions of all three of those real-life gangsters. Bugsy Siegel was played by Warren Beatty in the 1991 biopic “Bugsy,” which Beatty also directed.
-Michael Lerner played Arnold Rothstein in “Eight Men Out,” John Sayles’ 1988 movie about the fixing of that same 1919 World Series.
-None other than Joe Pesci played another Lansky stand-in named “Mayakofsky” in the 1983 film “Eureka,” while Dustin Hoffman was Lansky in the 2005 drama “The Lost City,” a film that covered the gangster’s adventures in Cuba. Richard Dreyfuss played Lansky in a 1999 HBO movie “Lansky,” which was written by Jewish playwright David Mamet.
-Harvey Keitel, who is Jewish and is another veteran of Scorsese gangster pictures, is set to play an aging version of Lansky in an upcoming biopic, also called “Lansky.” That film is being directed by Eytan Rockaway, whose father Robert wrote a book in 1993 called “But He Was Good to His Mother: The Lives and Crimes of Jewish Gangsters.”
-On the HBO TV series “Boardwalk Empire,” which Scorsese executive produced, Michael Stuhlbarg (famous for his role in the Coen brothers’ “A Serious Man”) played Rothstein and Michael Zegen, later of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” portrayed Siegel. In the short-lived cable series “Mob City,” Edward Burns was Siegel and Patrick Fischler was Lansky. In the lightly regarded 1991 film “Mobsters,” Richard Grieco played Siegel, Patrick Dempsey played Lansky and F. Murray Abraham portrayed Rothstein.
-There have been many fictional Jewish gangsters as well. For example, in 1990’s “Miller’s Crossing,” written and directed by the Coen brothers, John Turturro played bookie Bernie Bernbaum, about whom it is said “he’s got a mixed reputation, but for a sheeny, he’s got a lot of good qualities.” “Sheeny” is an anti-Jewish slur from the 19th century.
-In the 2006 crime drama “Lucky Number Slevin,” Ben Kingsley played a crime boss who was also a rabbi, and was called simply “The Rabbi.” The current season of the FX TV adaptation of the Coen brothers’ film “Fargo” features a character known as “Rabbi Milligan,” played by Ben Whishaw, who was traded among different ethnic crime families. One of those is the Jewish outfit known as the Moskowitz Syndicate.
-And on “The Sopranos,” there was Herman “Hesh” Rabkin (Jerry Adler), a veteran Jewish gangster and longtime associate of the Soprano family. In one episode, Christopher Moltisanti warns that an upcoming sit-down involving Hesh is likely to be a tough negotiation, because “I’ve heard his opinions on giving back pieces of Israel.” Adler also guest-starred on an episode of “The West Wing” as the father of Richard Schiff’s character Toby Ziegler, who was estranged from him due to his long-ago involvement with the Jewish organized crime group Murder, Inc.

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Connecting the Dots: Ari Posner- Meet Ari Posner

Ari Z. Posner, son of Barry and Bebe on the left and Ari P. Posner, son of Gerry and Sherna with the cap on the right

By GERRY POSNER I suppose we are not the only family to have inter-related connections. At least, not in the old days of the shtetl. What I do know is that finding my way through these family relationships took me years to figure out and understand. Recently, the dots got connected once again.

It all started (at least as far back as I can go) when around 1905, one Isaac Posner married one Kayla Shulman. They were living at that time in the same shtetl or at least close to the same shtetl of what was then known as Propoisk (now Slavgorod) in present day Belarus. From this marriage emerged three children: a daughter, Lillian Posner – later Romalis;l a son, Samuel L. Posner; and another son, Solomon Posner. That was simple enough. As it turned out, Issac Posner was an older brother of my grandfather, Herman Posner. Isaac’s wife, Kayla, was the sister of my other grandfather, Harry Shulman. Even that was not terribly complicated. In short, my father’s uncle Issac, married my mother’s aunt Kayla. That marriage linked the Posners to the Shulmans in Round 1.

When Isaac and Kayla’s kids married, a son, Sol, married a woman from Iowa City Iowa, named Rhea Markovitz. Not long after, in December, 1937 a son of Herman Posner (my grandfather) – Samuel R. Posner, (my father), married a woman named Rhea Shulman ( my mother) also from Iowa City, Iowa. She was a daughter to Harry and Anna Shulman of Iowa City. Thus, in Iowa City there were two first cousins – Rhea Shulman and Rhea Markovitz, born less than a year apart and both of whom later married men from Winnipeg, both with the initials SP – one Sol Posner and one Sam Posner. Of course, the marriage of my mother, a Shulman, to my father, a Posner, created Round 2 of the Posners and the Shulmans joining together. Are you still with me?

When, in the course of time, Sol and Rhea and Sam and Rhea began to have children, they created a relationship for their children in what might be considered by some to be almost incestuous. Rhea and Sol had two sons, Barry and Craig (of blessed memory), both of whom were and are likely still known to many readers to this day. My parents had Linda, my brother Michael, and me. We were, and still remain, cousins to Barry to this day. I was, and still am related to Barry and Craig in no less than three ways. Why? First of all, Barry’s father Sol was a first cousin to my father Sam. Secondly, Barry’s father was a first cousin to my mother Rhea. Thirdly, Barry’s mother Rhea was a first cousin to my mother Rhea. So the ties are deep. Confusing as well.

Of course, what solidified these roots even further was the fact that Sam and Rhea, my parents, and Sol and Rhea, Barry and Craig’s parents, all lived for the rest of their lives in Winnipeg. So, there were two S. Posners – three in fact, as Sol had a brother, Samuel L., a pharmacist. But, let’s not get sidetracked. The two Rheas were very close and I suspect there had to be much confusion about these two women with the same name and almost the same age. Moreover, the two families shared similar experiences each summer. That was because Rhea Posner – Barry and Craig’s mother, took her kids to Iowa City to spend part of the holidays with her parents, while my mother – Rhea, would also take my siblings and me to visit her parents in Iowa City, Iowa. My cousin Craig and I were the same age (born one month apart ) and hence spent much time together, both in Winnipeg and Iowa City. I never could quite get the picture as to why I saw him in both locations. All I knew was that he was my cousin.

Well, we all grew up with this similar history and genetic connections. When Barry married the former Bebe Melmed, three kids followed. The eldest son was Ari Z. Posner, who grew up in Montreal – where Barry and Bebe lived. When I married Sherna Bernbaum, we also had three kids, the eldest of whom was Ari P. Posner. The fact that these boys had the same name – Ari, was more of a fluke as they were not named for the same person. Oddly, (or maybe not given the past history) Ari Z’s middle name is Zvi, the same name as my son, only in the case of my son, Zvi is his Hebrew middle name. Ari Z. is about 5 years older than Ari P. That difference is about the age difference between Barry and me.

Recently, and to my delight, my son Ari had a good reason to go to L.A. to receive a music award and, to my greater delight, he expressed an interest in seeing the other Ari, whom he had never met. L.A. is where the other Ari Posner resides. As it turns out, their names were not the only dot that connected them. Both have made a career in the arts, Ari Z has done it in writing, creating and producing for TV primarily – and has been very successful in his field. Ari P. is a composer. He is not that far removed from the other Ari since he often writes music for TV in the US and Canada.

I think of grandfather Herman Posner and his brother Isaac. Would they not be amazed at this connection? Or better yet, what would my great-grandfather Shmerya and wife Yudasha have to say about two of their descendants now – approximately 170 years after their births, meeting and reinforcing the family ties. As much as so much has changed, this little bit of Posner history is the same.

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New website for Israelis interested in moving to Canada

By BERNIE BELLAN A new website, titled “Orvrim to Canada” (https://www.ovrimtocanada.com/ovrim-en) has been receiving hundreds of thousands of visits, according to Michal Harel, operator of the website.
In an email sent to jewishpostandnews.ca Michal explained the reasons for her having started the website:
“In response to the October 7th events, a group of friends and I, all Israeli-Canadian immigrants, came together to launch a new website supporting Israelis relocating to Canada. “Our website, https://www.ovrimtocanada.com/, offers a comprehensive platform featuring:

  • Step-by-step guides for starting the immigration process
  • Settlement support and guidance
  • Community connections and networking opportunities
  • Business relocation assistance and expert advice
  • Personal blog sharing immigrants’ experiences and insights

“With over 200,000 visitors and media coverage from prominent Israeli TV channels and newspapers, our website has already made a significant impact in many lives.”
A quick look at the website shows that it contains a wealth of information, almost all in Hebrew, but with an English version that gives an overview of what the website is all about.
The English version also contains a link to a Jerusalem Post story, published this past February, titled “Tired of war? Canada grants multi-year visas to Israelis” (https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/article-787914#google_vignette) That story not only explains the requirements involved for anyone interested in moving to Canada from Israel, it gives a detailed breakdown of the costs one should expect to encounter.

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Top-rated games you’ll find at online casinos

Online casinos serve as platforms where you can engage in games with monetary stakes for a chance to win real cash prizes. With many of these platforms accepting cryptocurrencies, this exciting activity has become popular amongst traders looking to earn more Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH) to trade.
The array of games available at online casinos is extensive, offering a wide variety to choose from. Each game offers a unique experience that makes it stand out among thousands of titles. To give you an idea of what kinds of games await you, check out these three examples:
Video slots with multiplier features
The slot game category has the most variety out of all types of games offered at Bitcoin casino Canada. There are easily more than 1000 of them in a given platform and each one offers a list of features like multipliers, sticky wilds, and expanding bonuses. There are other features you can enjoy but some of them are unique to games from a specific software provider.
What you should look for is any slot game with multipliers. This feature boosts how much you win per hit in a slot game and the amount can reach up to the game’s max payout. It is also the most versatile feature because it can work in tandem with almost any other slot game mechanic. Thus, your experience playing slot games with multipliers will always feel rewarding.
Variations of poker table games
Poker stands out for its strategic depth. With simple rules, this game offers single-player variations available at all Bitcoin casinos. If you can’t remember the winning hand combinations, then you may use references provided by the game in the description. Most of these poker games tell you what kind of hand you have so there’s no need to memorise any winning combinations.
In single-player poker games, players compete against the house, with different versions featuring varying winning conditions. Some require players to bet on their hand to win by having the best combination on the table. Others are played like slot games where you win by forming any winning hand but the payout is determined by the combination you make.
Playing any kind of poker game is fun to play to win Bitcoin prizes. Multiplayer poker is difficult to win unless you’re skilled at bluffing so stick to single-player ones to have more chances to win.
European roulette with a twist
European roulette has been a beloved classic among gamblers throughout history. It can be more fun now with new technology that is possible at online casinos. Some software providers have introduced innovative features, such as multipliers, to make payouts more exciting. Others revolutionise the classic format by adding another ball or a new game mode as a bonus feature.
The most creative iteration of the classic European roulette can be found at the top Bitcoin casino operating in Canada. Explore this unique iteration and dive into the action using crypto for added convenience and security.
Discover more games at your favourite online casino
All of these games can be found in almost every online casino. Just choose whichever has the best offering or feel the most convenient to use then explore their other options. From classic card games to cutting-edge slot games, they each offer unique experiences from one another. Take your time to find the perfect platform that offers a whole package of excitement and convenience, giving you a worthwhile journey to win crypto in the most entertaining way possible.

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