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‘Married to the Mob,’ but under a chuppah: A new memoir details a Jewish family’s crime ties



(New York Jewish Week) — The Geiks weren’t your typical Bronx working-class Jewish family. 

One brother ran a mob-protected trucking company in Manhattan’s Garment District. Another brother, an NYPD detective, chauffeured organized crime couriers around the city with illicit cash. Their kid sister visited a Las Vegas casino where the tween was set up with a couple of slot machines in a private room. 

And a close family friend was sent up the river for killing a notorious Jewish gangster.

Meet the family whose close ties to Jewish gangsters are chronicled in “Uncle Charlie Killed Dutch Schultz,” a memoir just published by Alan Geik.

Dutch Schultz was the mob name of Arthur Flegenheimer, the Jewish bootlegger and numbers racket kingpin who left this mortal coil in October 1935 at the Palace Chop House in Newark. The triggermen were two Jews, members of the organized crime group Murder Inc. Mendy Weiss and Charles “Bug” Workman, the Uncle Charlie of the memoir’s title, did the hit. 

Workman, who reportedly killed more than 20 people before pleading guilty to the murder of Dutch Schultz, was not a blood relative of author Alan Geik. But Workman grew up with Geik’s father on the Lower East Side and was so close to the Geik family he was considered an uncle. The author was in his 20s when he first met Workman, after the hitman was released from a New Jersey prison in 1964.

“I would never think of calling him anything but Uncle Charlie,” said Geik, 80, a retired TV producer and radio host who lives in Las Vegas.

In addition to diving deep into Workman’s story, the book also explores how Jewish mobsters and their hangers-on fought antisemitism, beat up Nazis and helped a fledgling Israel acquire arms for its War of Independence.  

“These were people, from the first generation of Jews in America, who fought back against antisemitism in the streets,” Geik said. “Their parents fled the pogroms of Eastern Europe. They were not going to let it happen again and they didn’t.”  

Geik’s book joins a crowded shelf of histories and memoirs of the Jewish mob, including “But He Was Good to His Mother: The Lives and Crimes of Jewish Gangsters,” by Robert A. Rockaway, and “Tough Jews: Fathers, Sons, and Gangster Dreams,” by Rich Cohen. Like those books, Geik’s family history provides a sort of reverse image of typical Jewish immigrant stories: Instead of scrapping their way up from New York’s Jewish enclaves into retail and the professions, Geik’s family joined a criminal counterculture. 

Alan Geik’s family’s close ties to Jewish gangsters are chronicled in a just-published memoir, “Uncle Charlie Killed Dutch Schultz.” (Sonador Publishing)

Books such as Geik’s “really put a personal experience to this whole world that we all know about, the world of New York mobsters,” said Larry Henry, author of a monthly column for the Mob Museum in Las Vegas. “The public’s appetite for mob stories is insatiable.”

“Uncle Charlie Killed Dutch Schultz” describes a tangled family tree ripe with, well, rotten apples. Geik’s father, Lou, was not actually in the mob but did reap benefits from his ties with organized crime, Alan concedes. Lou Geik was one of several individuals who delivered mob cash to Workman’s family over 23 years.

“Uncle Charlie felt indebted to my father,” said Geik.

The author’s father is cited as a source for many of the anecdotes included in the memoir. Geik said that while his father’s business relied on mob protection, Lou Geik didn’t have “that extra whatever-it-took to be a really hardened criminal” — a trait, he said, his own older brother Bernard also lacked.

“My brother always wanted to be a gangland figure,” said Alan Geik. “So, instead my brother became a policeman.”

An ultimately very corrupt policeman. Bernard Geik joined the force in 1962 and resigned in 1971 after serving in the notorious Special Investigative Unit, which, as depicted in the book and the motion picture “Prince of the City,” devolved into an extortion ring. After resigning from the NYPD, Bernard Geik was arrested for bribery and bribe-taking in 1974. He reportedly pleaded guilty but served no time. 

The disgraced detective went to work at his father’s trucking company. According to the author, his brother was one of the detectives provided by a supervisor to drive their Uncle George and other mobsters around town when they were transporting mob money in New York.

Uncle George Gordon was a real uncle. Gordon is allegedly one of the gangsters the actor George Raft modeled himself after for his roles in 1930s and ’40s crime melodramas. For decades, beginning at a casino and speakeasy near the Hudson River in midtown Manhattan, Gordon had a big hand in organized crime’s gambling operations, supervising enterprises in Florida, the Midwest, Las Vegas and Havana. 

Alan Geik isn’t the only keeper of his family’s convoluted story. His sister Iris has her own memories of growing up mob-adjacent, such as when she and her parents were Gordon’s guests at the Stardust Hotel in Vegas when the mob was running its casino and skimming cash from the profits. Gordon wanted Lou Geik to work there.

According to Iris, Gordon posted a guard outside a private room in which she had been ensconced with a couple of slot machines. The 13-year-old was “mesmerized” by the slot machines. Her mother was initially unaware of what was going on.

“Uncle Charlie” Workman, seen in 1941, pled guilty to the 1935 murder of mobster Dutch Schultz and was given a life sentence. (NYPD)

“I was having a blast,” Iris Geik said. “I’ll never forget when the door flung open and my itty-bitty mother came in with a big guard behind her. She immediately made me stop [playing with the slot machine] and give back the money I had won.”

Iris Geik, now a privacy lawyer in the Boston area, has written hundreds of pages of her own memoir about the wives and girlfriends of the Jewish gangsters, tentatively titled, “The View From the Women’s Table.”

“Their lives were complex but they were also heimische Jewish women,” she said, using the Yiddish word for cozy and familiar. She and her father eloped because they were a mixed couple: Her mother Reba was a Sephardic Jew and her father was Ashkenazi.

Geik remembered that as a child she noticed a newspaper article about a family friend being arrested. She said, “Mom! Mom! Look, we’re famous.” To which her mother replied, “That’s infamous, dear.”

Geik said that on several occasions her mother observed: “There are no second-generation Jewish mobsters. Jews don’t make gangsters out of their children.”

Reba Geik had been involved in caring for two of Iris’ aunts who lived in Brooklyn while they were dying. Those acts of kindness had a profound impact on Uncle George, the casino supervisor.

After the aunts passed away, Gordon always stood when Reba entered a room, Iris said. “My mother was very honored by that because he was such a big shot.”

Throughout her life, Reba Geik remained close to Sylvia Lorber, a friend from her teenage years. Lorber was the only mob mistress her mother would spend time with, said Iris. Lorber was the paramour of two Jewish gangsters: Benny Kassop, the brother of Murder, Inc. gunman Sammy Kassop, and Sam “Red” Levine, an observant Jew who wore a kippah under his fedora. Levine won the affection of Lorber while the Kassop brothers were in Sing Sing, the maximum-security prison in Ossining, New York. 

“Sylvia was a hell of a lot of fun but my mother worried about her,” Iris said. “Sylvia told me her stories, which were kind of glamorous when she was young but sad when she was older.” After spending 20 years with Levine, Lorber couldn’t attend his funeral. Sylvia Lorber stopped talking to Reba Geik in her last years.

Jewish gangsters do, on occasion, display some altruism in Alan Geik’s memoir. Take Moe Dalitz, the head of the Cleveland Syndicate. He was a major bootlegger during Prohibition whose flotillas of illegal liquor on the Great Lakes came to be known as The Little Jewish Navy. His family ran legitimate laundry businesses in Boston and Detroit. Too old to be drafted during World War II, he enlisted at the age of 42 and was commissioned as a lieutenant. Dalitz ran the military laundry service on New York’s Governor’s Island — but declined to bunk in the island’s barracks, opting instead to stay at a swanky hotel overlooking Central Park. 

Then there was Johnny Eder, a major source for Geik’s narrative. Eder was part of the Lower East Side teenage crime crew that included Uncle Charlie and Uncle George. As an adult he was a major fence for stolen jewelry and always had a bag of stolen rings on him. Eder also had many connections at City Hall and in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office. 

According to Geik’s account, Eder was the mob’s representative to the Haganah, the Jewish paramilitary force in Palestine. Eder arranged meetings in the noisy kitchen of the Copacabana, a mob hangout, between Haganah agents and mobsters and others described as “former wartime U.S. intelligence agents” working to secure weapons for Israel’s War of Independence. (The late Teddy Kollek, Jerusalem’s longtime mayor, would tell a story about passing cash to an intermediary at the Copacabana, who brought the money to an Irish sea caption with a ship full of munitions bound for the Holy Land. The bagman, according to Kollek, was Frank Sinatra.)  

Author Alan Geik’s father-in-law, Lou Lenart, left, and other fighter pilots in front of Avia-S-199 plane. Lenart was part of the group of men transporting surplus fighter planes and other weapons to the Holy Land for use in the War of Independence. (Courtesy of Boaz Dvir)

Alan Geik has a very personal connection to the creation of the Jewish state. His late wife Nina was the daughter of Lou Lenart, a World War II fighter pilot who served in the U.S. Marines. Geik’s memoir details how the elder Lenart was part of the group of men transporting surplus fighter planes and other weapons to Palestine for use in Israel’s War of Independence. Lenart’s story was featured in Nancy Spielberg’s 2014 documentary “Above and Beyond,” about the creation of the Israeli air force. 

The story of how Jewish gangsters used some violent muscle against Nazi sympathizers in New York has been told before in historical accounts, but one episode in Geik’s memoir is particularly dramatic. A pair of Jews attended a Bund rally at Camp Siegfried on Long Island, a summer camp that taught Nazi ideology, and were offered a ride back to the city by a Nazi sympathizer who they ended up beating senseless in Brooklyn.

Alan Geik was not really hungry when he met Meyer Lansky at a Central Park hotel in the late 1950s. The gangster asked the 15-year-old nephew of George Gordon if he wanted a pastrami sandwich. Geik declined. Then Lansky, who struck Geik as an “older Jewish man who I knew was really powerful,” suggested that they split one. It was an offer that Geik did not refuse.

The post ‘Married to the Mob,’ but under a chuppah: A new memoir details a Jewish family’s crime ties appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.

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Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary



By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”

Raquel Dancho (left), Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, and Nikki Spigelman, President, Gwen Secter Centre

Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)

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Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station



This is a developing story.

(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.

An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.

Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.

The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.

The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to  transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.

Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.

The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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