The Jewish mafia was different than the Italian mafia – and all the other mafias.
How so? The Jewish mob never sought to pass on the family business.
The key here is that they likely saw a life of organized crime as a way to another life, not as a way of life to be held on to.
It seems as though even brutal mobsters that did brutal things may have had some moral qualms about what they were doing – at least to the extent that they wanted something more for their kids.
Isn’t that what we all want?
For these men, the greatest dream, the dream they reserved for their children, was to be a successful, law-abiding American. The Jewish people wanted a future like the one my father and his friends live today: summer in the mountains, winter in the sun, deals in the steamroom, politicians to the house, and nothing to go to jail for. Legitimate power. Doctors. Lawyers. The gangsters knew they could not have this for themselves. They were too rough, too green, not far enough from Europe, the shtetl, the pogroms. They were like the generation Moses led out of Egypt, a generation lost in the wilderness, a slave generation that must die away before Jews can settle the promised land. So they instead got themselves in position to make the dream come true for their children. “The Jewish Mafia was never passed on like the Italian Mob,” Cusack said. “Jews didn’t recruit. The old-timers did what they felt they had to do; but they did not want the younger generation of Jews mixed up in it.”
-Rich Cohen, Tough Jews