Sponsored by the Ivan M. Stettenheim Library and
the Herbert & Eileen Bernard Judaica Museum.
Held TUESDAY, APRIL 25, 2006, 6:30pm
Ron Arons told the true story of Jewish
Temple Emanu-El Community House
Ron Arons at lectern begins his April 25th slide presentation.
Press Release in advance of program promoting it:
Bernard Museum of Judaica & Stettenheim Library at Temple Emanu-El Present
2005-2006 Lecture Series: The Arts and [Jewish] Identity
[Genealogy, Society and Identity]
April 25, 2006 at 6:30pm
The Jews of Sing-Sing
Nationally known scholar Ron Arons tells the true story of Jewish gangsters and other shady characters who served time “up the river” and the NY Jewish community’s response. Arons's interest in Jewish inmates incarcerated at the infamous prison in Ossining, New York started after discovering, in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, that his great-grandfather Isaac served four years at Sing Sing. Further genealogical research revealed two additional instances, in 1916 and 1925, where Isaac found himself the subject of a criminal investigation.
In 1908, New York City Police Commissioner Bingham claimed that Jewish criminals committed one-half of all crimes in the city. The Jewish community responded to Bingham's charge by claiming that Jews held the moral high ground and, beyond a few gangsters, did not commit crimes. Despite their public response, the Jewish community was well aware of its own criminality and set up various organizations to address the problem. Due to its proximity to New York City, Sing Sing prison has housed thousands of Jewish criminals from 1880 - 1950 including numerous minor offenders, notorious gangsters, and the only civilians to be executed for treason (Julius and Ethel Rosenberg). Today, the inmate population of Sing Sing still includes Jewish felons, although their numbers are considerably less than in previous years.
Ron Arons has earned degrees from Princeton University and the University of Chicago, and is a member of both the Los Angeles and San Francisco Jewish Genealogical Societies. As a seasoned genealogist, Arons has traced his roots to England, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania. As a recipient of the 2005 Hackman Research Residency Award, Arons' current research focuses on both famous and lesser-known Jewish criminals.