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“Luca Brasinski sleeps with the gefilte fishes tonight...”
In 2009, news emerged that police officers in New Jersey, USA, had arrested 40 people following an investigation into a series of organised crimes including the manufacture and sale of counterfeit goods, money laundering and protection racketeering. When it was discovered that five of the detainees were rabbis, the public were at first surprised - however, the media were quick to delve deeper into a violent, murky and mysterious underworld where fear and revenge is the order of the day. Before long they had amassed terrifying evidence proving the existence of a previously little-known criminal gang who will surely strike terror into the hearts of those who seek only to lead law-abiding lives: La Kosher Nostra.
Origins and History
For many decades the Jews have been known to be an endangered species. Pogroms, mass deportations, forced conversions, tortures and massive amounts of Gefilteh Fish kept the Jewish head down under humanity's radar. Generation after generation of Jews lived their small and unobtrusive lives without proper leadership or guidance, thus creating an enormous vacuum in the heart of the Jewish culture.
And, as is the case with vacuums, something had to fill this enormous gape in reality. Into this vacuum came the mysterious and violent organization known as the Kosher Nostra. The height of organized crime. Jewish style.
It was the infamous Rabbi Baruch Mermelstein, ominously nicknamed "The Circumciser", who was, allegedly, the founder and the first "g_d father" of the Kosher Nostra. Rabbi Mermelstein, a highly intelligent scholar, saw the great potential in the uncharted lands of corruption within the closed Jewish communities and decided to take the structure and the methods of the Italian organized crime outfits to new heights of terror.
As early as 1967, Rabbi Memelstein hooked up with Yakov Abuhatzera (aka "The Yad") and formed the first known cell of the Kosher Nostra, the "Jersey Mohels".
The Mohels began with the basics of all criminal organizations - pimping shiksas, providing "protection" to synagogues and hamin moon-shining.
But soon, events turned sour.
The Kosher Nostra, coincidently stumbled upon the turf of the New York crime group the "Hasids", a group specializing in burning down non-kosher food parlors and taking over the prayer shawls market. This unlucky turn of events let to the event later known as "The Night of Tall Shtrimels"
The Night of tall Shtrimels began with Rabbi Memelstein's personal guard, the "Yeshiva Boys" breaking into the home of the "Hasids" consigliere, Moishe "The Koogelager" Levy. The Yeshiva Boys dragged the frightened counsellor out of his bed, beating him senseless with prayer shawls drenched with horseradish. The counsellor's wife was then forced to call the Hasid's leader, Rabbi Zeèv "Mazel Tov" Rubinstein begging him to meet her for a "special financial opportunity" on one of the Hudson's less populated docks. It was there that Rabbi Rubinstein met his destiny, and went sleeping with the Gefilte Fisch.
All over Manhattan, the Hasids' lieutenants were taken out of the game by so-called "forces of nature" and in "freak accidents" - drowned in Cholent pots, botched circumcisions, hanged from their own Tefillin, exploding Mezuzahs, acid laden yamulkas.
And it was from that night that the most dangerous crime organization, lead by Rabbi Mermelstein, rose again as the dominant crime family in the TriState area.
- ↑ One policeman, who had seen several corpses of Kosher Nostra enemies who fell prey to the acid-laden yarmulkas, described victim's heads as looking exactly like olives stuffed with pimento peppers.
Structure, Cells and Branches
The Kosher Nostra is made up of several cells known as Hatserot, each of which is formed from a number of members occupying different levels in gang hierarchy. Though the different Hatserot maintain close links with one another, there is no central control and each operates independently which can at times lead to violent and bloody feuds as they clash over territory and talmudic interpretation.
At the head of every family is the Admor, or The Rebbe, who has total control over all other members. Just below him are his rabbinical students, one of whom will become boss upon the existing Admor's death, who will be charged with controlling the family when the Admor is absent. The Minyanim are each formed of ten armed Yeshiva Boys who will carry out tasks such as collecting money from protection rackets, disposing of enemies and trafficking illicit ingredients for the Sabbath feast. The Sofer Stam acts as the group's secretary and may be responsible for carrying out non-criminal tasks such as organising family gatherings. The Shabbos Goyim are non-Jewish associates of the family, paid in return for carrying out essential activities during the Sabbath when the Jewish members do not work, thus maintaining at least one of the ten commandments. At the centre, protected by all members but kept one step clear of the goyim, is the Rabbi's mother who, unofficially, is the real power behind the family - her word is law and all other family members admit their subservience to her, providing comedians with the raw material for millions of Jewish Mother jokes.
Little do they know how dangerous Jewish mothers really are.
Involvement in Illegal Activities
Kosher Nostra minyans are involved in wide range of illegal activities, with a distinct Jewish twang. Some of the recognized activities are rumored to include the manufacture and sale of counterfeit goods such as non-kosher mazuzah scrolls and tefillin, giving out loans with lower than standard interest rates (thereby eliminating the competition), producing false Kosher certificates, circumcising to shorter lengths than the Jewish standard, selling round Hamen Tachens, pimping Shiksas and using Christian children's blood to prepare Matzah Balls. Otherwise they're really dry, you know.
Kapel "Krav Maga" Cohen and the Kosher Nostra in Britain
As a young boy in the early 20th Century, Kapel Cohen had already made a name for himself on the mean streets of London's notorious Golders Green where his diminutive fists were widely respected amongst criminals and lawmen alike before he even went to yeshiva ketana . Young Kapel was not academically gifted but he earned the adulation of his peers by growing a full beard and metre-long peyot (those dangly sideburn things) by the time he was just six years old and soon made a name for himself as an excellent boxer, a skill which soon saw him travelling as far afield as Finchley and Redbridge.
- ↑ School for Jewish children, where pupils are taught standard primary school material alongside traditionally Jewish subjects such as nuclear physics, advanced mathematics, quantum theory and so on.
Cohen meets Rabbi Silberberg
In 1922, New York Rabbi Isaac Silberberg was fresh out of yeshiva gedola and looking to make a name for himself. However, the underground synagogue world in America was already run by Kosher Nostra gangs. To gain admittance to such a gang, anyone other than the son of the gang's g_dfather would first have to become a member of one of the group's minyanim and, as the most junior member, would be forced to perform lowly and seemingly unimportant tasks such as fetching challah from the bakery at 6am or brushing wildlife out of the rabbi's striemel. A proud man, Silberberg wanted to go in straight at the top - but since his father was a tailor, there seemed to be no way he could do so. Eventually he formed a plan - if none of the existing gangs would take him on as their leader, he would simply form his own gang with himself as boss. The trouble was, there was nowhere in America that he could do this without stepping on another gang's toes - an action which would have been tantamount to suicide, since Kosher Nostra gangs are notoriously territorial and tend to react savagely toward any other criminal organisation known to operate on their patch. He searched the length and breadth of the States, but wherever he looked the Kosher Nostra were already well-established and so he was forced to look further afield. His quest began in what was then known as Great Britain, the nation we now know as Quite Good Britain, where he soon found himself in London where - to his delight - there were well-established Jewish communities, many of whom preferred to make a living via legal means. He must have felt like the first explorers when they came upon the vast and fertile Great Plains of his homeland, so ripe were the opportunities laid out before him in this strange, new land.
However, Silberberg could not just muscle in and set up his new gang - home-grown Jewish gangs were already operating in London, such as the bloodthirsty Charedim Crew in Golders Green who controlled the chopped herring black market with a yad of steel and the infamous Chabad Massive of Stamford Hill who, under the leadership of Rebbe "Psycho" Schneerson, made a living by grabbing people on the street, tying them up with tefillin and taking any money or valuable goods they might have about them. A sedentary life of Torah study had not equipped Silberberg to face these violent gangs head-on, and so he began visiting bagel shops where he knew he would find young Jewish men looking to make a reputation for themselves. It was at one of these shops that he heard tell of a young man going by the name of Kapel Cohen who, it was said, could eat half a hundredweight of lox at a single sitting, so he left a message with the shop's owner asking Cohen to contact him.
Within the week, Cohen and Silberberg met for the first time - Silberberg would later say that he was astounded by the younger man's presence; Cohen was around six feet and six inches (1.98m) tall, had a recorded boxing ring weight of 266lb (121kg) and it was said that each of his fists were the size of an uncooked hindl. Silberberg offered him a job there and then and as soon as Cohen had negotiated a higher rate of pay - we said he wasn't academically gifted but hey, he was Jewish, remember - the two men went into shady business with Silberberg as the brains and Cohen as the brawn of the outfit. They soon recruited other members, including the feared hitman Samuel "Shekel" Schtein (so called because, by his own admission, every man has a price) who, in 1923, was responsible for the murder of Charedim Crew student rabbi Benyamin Yisroel. Cohen later revealed that the newly-formed gang had no particular argument with the Charedim, but that the murder served simply as an effective way to announce their arrival on London's gang scene - such is the harsh and violent way of the synagogue underworld.
- ↑ A sort of high school for Jewish teenagers, but the girls generally wear long skirts with buttoned up blouses and are a lot more modest than those at normal high schools. Except for Ruth "Blowjobs" Beikselbaum, Class of 1991, King Solomon School, London. Mmm-hmm.
Silberberg's Death: Cohen becomes the G_dfather
However, Silberberg's reign was not destined to last long. The terrifying New York Hasids had not forgotten his plans to set up a gang of his own in their own city and, when they heard that he was becoming successful in London, began to fear that he might one day return and mount a challenge to their might and so they decided they would need to dispose of him. An undercover Hasid hitman travelled to Britain and discovered that Silberberg has started to smoke cigars, one of which he would light as soon as he got home each evening. The hitman, whose identity remains unknown to this day, formed a complex plan. Breaking into Silberberg's home, he constructed an elaborate device operated by means of a trigger mechanism placed under the cushion of the gang leader's favoured armchair. Once activated, this would pull on a thin and near-invisible thread which in turn pulled a paper bag of finely-ground matzo flour from where it had been surreptitiously placed on a high shelf. The trap was unsuccessful the first night it was set as Silberberg had enjoyed several glasses of wine at a drinking club of which he held part-ownership and, upon his return, he went straight to bed - his wife later said, "Oy vey, that schmegege was so schiker he didn't even manage to recite the first verse of the Shema before falling asleep, the narisch schmuck".
Then, on the second night, the trap worked like a dream - or, in Silberberg's case, like a nightmare. As he sat down and lit his cigar, the matzo flour fell to the floor where the bag burst open, filling the room with the fine and highly inflammable powder which was ignited by the match's flame. As if the manner of his death wasn't bad enough, Silberberg suffered the added indignity of being entirely cremated in the explosion - a method of corpse disposal prohibited in the Jewish faith. Police inspecting the crime scene reported that the body was so burnt that it was impossible to distniguish between matzo flour and human ashes - however, all was not lost: as the world was still in the grip of the Great Depression, the flour was soon sold to a Catholic congregation who used it to make the bread they use in their church services, which they have long believed is analagous with human flesh.
Upon Silberberg's death, leadership of the gang passed on to Kapel Cohen. Realising that it would now be him who faced execution, he arranged to meet with Rabbi Hymie "Blam Blam" Blatt, g_dfather of the Chicago Kosher Nostra who had earned his name due to his excellent markmanship with a tommygun - it was said that he could aim a bullet so accurately that it would pass through the middle hole of a kosher pretzel without dislodging even a single crumb. His first task was to reassure Rabbi Blatt that he had no plans to move into Kosher Nostra territory and simply sought their aid in establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in London, for which he would sign over a certain percentage of all money made by his gang. The American organisation was well-known amongst the British criminal fraternity, many of whom were keen fans of any film involving the gang which they would watch obsessively and then try to copy Kosher Nostra fashion, expressions and technique, even going so far as to spend vast sums on importing the stylish and handmade Zoot Tallitot which were all the rage amongst Jewish American gangsters. Mere association with the Kosher Nostra increased the profile of Cohen's gang, who rapidly found that other organisations - including the Charedim and Chabad boys - were no longer willing to risk incurring his wrath. Gradually, their members began migrating over to Cohen and the gang's numbers swelled until, in 1930, it was the biggest criminal gang operating in Britain, being even larger than the Women's Institute. It was at this time that Cohen earned his nickname - as he attended a meeting at his local steibel during Hanukkah, he was approached by a young man in traditional Jewish dress who asked how he might go about joining the gang. Before anyone could prevent it, the man suddenly produced a sharpened hanukiyah and dived at Cohen - his hat fell off, revealing a yarmulke emblazoned with the distinctive CC emblem of the Charedim Crew with whom Cohen's gang had been competing for shiksa trafficking rights throughout the city. However, Cohen was too fast for him - before any of his bodyguards had even had time to react, their leader had thrown a single punch which was sufficient to kill the man outright; and from then on he became known as "Krav Maga" Cohen, after the fearsome Israeli self-defence technique.
- ↑ Schiker - drunk. Like many Yiddish terms, this word is highly onomatopoetic in that it closely mimics the noise created when one vomits into a lavatory bowl.
- ↑ A rather long-winded prayer that Jews are supposed to memorise and recite before going to sleep and before they do anything else in the morning - yes, even before a cup of coffee and a cigarette.
- ↑ A sort of miniature synagogue, often small enough to fit into a cupboard.
Cohen's Gang becomes part of the Kosher Nostra
The American Kosher Nostra were so impressed with both Cohen and the transformation of the gang under his leadership from a small-scale, amateur outfit to a respected and highly effective underground criminal army that they offered to make his organisation an official affiliate of their own society. Realising that theirs was a brand name worth having, Cohen quickly accepted - the British Kosher Nostra was born.
Like many criminal gangs that reach a certain age, Cohen's Kosher Nostra adopted a low profile during the latter years of the 20th Century. The old days of petty street crime and small scale heists were now below them and instead they moved into the world of high-profit corporate crime where they are thought to have been behind several insider trading and major insurance scams. Despite a popularly-held belief that the gang is no longer active, law enforcement agencies in Britain and throughout Europe believe they are still involved in many areas including the trafficking of people who are non-Halakhically Jewish (ie; those with a Jewish father and gentile mother) into Israel. They are also thought to still have involvement in the illicit supply of contraband such as the non-kosher items previously mentioned, but these days are likely to own the factories manufacturing such goods rather than to be involved directly in high-risk procedures such as the smuggling of such items into Jewish areas.
Cohen's Retirement and New Ventures
"Krav Maga" Cohen retired in 1980 and, as is common amongst London gangsters, took up residence in a large and tasteless house in the Essex countryside. He was later approached by Guy Ritchie, the middle-class film director and ex-husband of pop singer Madonna, who wanted to make a film about London gangsters and needed to recruit real life criminals in order to give his films the working-class credentials they would require if they were not to become the ridiculed, laughable examples of fakery and make-believe that they truly are. Ritchie had already spoken with a number of goy ex-gangsters including "Mad" Frankie Fraser, the elderly East End hard man, who when asked if would help in making the film replied: "Piss off back to Eton, poshboy. Besides, I'm busy - I'm opening a church fete today." But Cohen, displaying classic Yiddisher klugschaft, (trans. wisdom) saw merit in the project. Realising that the British public suffer from widespread delusion that gangsters are basically honourable people who are always good to their old mum and who hurt only other criminals (rather than selfish psychopaths who are, in many cases, so desperate for their next hit of heroin they'll think nothing of ramming red hot pins under your toenails just so you'll tell them where your £10 digital watch is hidden) and as such have a great appetite for films dealing with the subject, he believed that Ritchie's project would be a box office success and so he signed up. Ritchie went on to make two films with Cohen's help - "Lokshen, Shlok and Two Smoking Bagels" and "Schmaltz," starring Hollywood heart-throb Brad Pitt as Irish-born Wandering Jew and bare-knuckle boxer Mickey Osen. The success of both films brought new and respectable fame to Cohen, who appeared on a number of television shows and wrote several books such as "The Kray Twins - What a pair of Feygele Schmucks . His fortune, already made vast with the ill-gotten profits of his old illegal lifestyle, had grown several times larger by the time of his death in 1999. He was buried in Waltham Abbey Jewish Cemetery, just outside London, where he has resided to the present day.
- ↑ Cohen, Kapel: "The Kray Twins - What a pair of Faygele Schmucks" (trans. "Gay Pricks"), ISBN 978-1-60820-036-8.
Codes and Customs
Like many close-knit groups, the Kosher Nostra has gradually evolved a system of slang and oral code which can make conversation between two members almost impenetrable to the outsider - indeed, this may have been the original intention in adopting the language as it would enable gangsters to discuss proposed criminal activity in public places without being understood by anyone who might then pass on information to law enforcement agencies.
Members born to Kosher Nostra parents
The processes involved in the initiation of new members vary according to whether or not the initiate was born into a Kosher Nostra Hatserot. Those that were are, in most cases, raised under the assumption that they will become full members - indeed, few opt out and the vast majority will spend their entire lives within the organisation, often marrying someone from another Kosher Nostra family and raising their own children in the Kosher Nostra tradition.
In the case of females, who traditionally do not take such an active role in Kosher Nostra affairs as males, the baby will undergo a relatively simple process known as the Simchat Bat during which she is given a name and blessings. On the first Shabbat (Sabbath) after her birth, she will be taken to the synagogue where the family meets and there will be given her name. For male babies, the process is more complex. Eight days after birth, he will undergo a ritual which in some ways is similar to that faced by Japanese Yakuza mobsters who cut off a finger to show their allegiance to a gang - in the case of the Kosher Nostra, however, the ritual - known as the Brit Milah - is a great deal grimmer and designed to demonstrate the ruthlessness and bloodthirsty nature that has made the organisation so feared. The bizarre ceremony involves two of the Kosher Nostra's most mysterious figures: one, the Sandek, is given the task of holding the baby steady while the other - the terrifying Mohel - uses a razor-sharp blade to slice into the child's penis, completely severing his foreskin. The process is said to form a covenant with God, as was carried out by one of the organisation's founding members Moses, who received divine protection and as a result led a long and productive life during which he was never once arrested, even when he monopolised the illicit manna trade  - parents hope that by carrying out the Brit Milah, their child will lead a similar existence and grow up to be an honourable and productive part of the Kosher Nostra.
It is for this reason that Kosher Nostra members never fail, as they are well aware of the retribution they will be forced to pay. While the Yakuza members have ten fingers to spare (even twenty if you don't mind wobbling around of fingerless feet) the kosher Nostra members have a single shortened penis. And they would like to keep that intact thank you very much.
At the age of 13 (boys) or 12 (girls), the child is considered mature enough to make adult decisions and will be called upon to become an active gang member. For boys, the ceremony is called the Bar Mitzvah, and during the ceremony he may be given a set of tefillin of his own which are used to garotte enemies and bind victims during robberies - this signifies the fact that the child is now old enough to begin carrying out crimes of their own devising, rather than taking a passive role in the organisation as they have done previously. In the past, girls were not expected to undergo a similar process as females did not take such an active role within the Kosher Nostra as males did; but in recent years the Bat Mitzvah has become common, a ceremony in which the girl takes on her own roles as an adult member of the gang. Some progressive Kosher Nostra synagogues, seeking to achieve full equality between male and female members, have even begun to give Bat Mitzvah girls tefillin of their own - small gangs of Jewish girls now account for a large percentage of street crimes carried out in many Jewish areas.
- ↑ Manna: a sweet-tasting drug. Usage reached epidemic levels amongst Jews in some regions during Moses' day. The drug was considered by dealers to be one of the most profitable since it could not be stored (kept over night, it "bred worms and stank," according to the Bible), meaning that addicts would be forced to visit their dealer daily.
Non-Kosher Nostra Applicants
Occasionally, one of the Kosher Nostra family's Shabbos Goyim - the non-Jewish associates who are charged with carrying out tasks at odds with the members' Jewish beliefs such as setting fire during Sabbath to premises owned by companies who have fallen behind in protection racket payments - may seek to take on a more active role within the organisation. To do so, he or she must first approach the Rabbi, who sits at the head of the family. The Rabbi will not pay heed to the applicant's requests the first couple times that he is asked, only considering the case upon the third attempt; this being intended to discourage all but the most determined prospective members. Every applicant is carefully supervised and tested to ascertain his or her obedience, discretion, ability and ruthlessness. Ex-members currently part of the Witness Protection Program have described various initiation rituals, with wide differences between those used by Orthodox, Reform and Progressive (Liberal) Kosher Nostra familes, but certain aspects seem to be routine no matter which family one seeks to join. The first is an intensive course in the Hebrew language - the new member will be expected to read a section of Torah fluently during his acceptance ceremony, and he will be expected to do so correctly - even those bits with the really peculiar and arcane bits of punctutation. Secondly, he will be expected to make an oath that he will no longer indulge in certain activities which bring him pleasure - for example, the consumption of lobster, cheeseburgers and rabbit pie. If the applicant is successful in persuading the Rabbi that his or her motives are sincere, he or she will be called to appear before a Beth Din, a court made up of three men highly knowledgable in Kosher Nostra traditions, rules and ceremony - these men, who are in most cases rabbis, will closely question the applicant in order to decide whether or not he or she will be accepted into the organisation. The effectiveness of this method becomes apparent when it is understood that, to date, no police infiltrator has yet been successful - despite many attempts - in gaining admittance to a Kosher Nostra gang.
Applicants may fail for several reasons; however, those who fail on a technicality are permitted to continue as associates and earn the title Righteous Gentile, which will bring greater respect from full members. To date, all undercover police officers attempting to infiltrate the organisation have been exposed either at or before the Beth Din stage - it is not known what fate befell them subsequent to their discovery but it is worth noting that, after New York police attempted to stage a crackdown on Kosher Nostra gangs operating within the city in 1978, dredgers clearing New York Harbour recorded an unusual increase in underwater obstructions which appeared to resemble large concrete boots on sonar screens.
Members who are approved by the Beth Din now face further processing - females will visit a Mikvah, a type of large bath similar to a swimming pool. The water is, according to some Kosher Nostra experts, representative of the blood of those who have been slain by the organisation and by bathing in it the woman is ceremonially immersing herself in the gang's grimand bloody ways and history. Others claim that she is merely washing off the residue of her previous life - which version is correct is a matter of personal opinion: most people, however, tend to favour the former since the Kosher Nostra are after all a group that routinely carries out unanaesthetised invasive surgery on baby boy's penises during the Brit Milah and which is known to slaughter Christian children for their blood. Successful male applicants face an even more chilling ceremony - the Mohel awaits...
Sleeping with the Gefilte Fishes
Featured in the very famous The G_dfather movie, sleeping with the gefilte fishes has become so well-known outside of the Kosher Nostra that members rarely use the term nowadays. It refers to a particularly horrific method of disposing of enemies: weighing them down - either by tying a heavy object to the legs or encasing the feet in kenidalach (known as concrete overshoes or boots) and throwing them into a carp filled pond, or possibly weighting them down by making them eat 4-5 portions of the always popular Jewish delight - the ominous gefilte fish. Typically, the initial "weighting down" process already made the victim sick with overdose of carp.
Head dipping in the Cholent
Some known enemies of the Kosher Nostra have gone missing after angering the mob, only to resurface, literally, in a huge pot full of cholent. This well known Jewish delicacy is made primarily out of kidney beans and other assortments of dangerous goods, some of them forbidden by the Geneva Convention. Some more extreme wings of the Kosher Nostra used this dish as a means to dispose off their rivals. Whether the actual death is due to drowning or to uncontrollable gas issues due to excessive consumption of cholent is yet to be determined.
The 613 Mitzvot
In 2007, police reported that they had discovered a list of 613 mitzvot or commandments that all Kosher Nostra members must abide by, in the home of g_dfather Salvatore Piccolstein. The commandments are as follows:
- No one can present himself directly to another member of the gang. This must be done through arranged friendship by a certified matchmaker.
- Never look at the wives of friends, even if you can see their hair or their wrists.
- Never be seen with a hotdog.
- Don't...er...what was number four again?
- Always being available for Kosher Nostra is a duty - even if your mother just made chicken soup.
- Erm...can't quite remember this one either. Was it something about my neighbour's oxen?
- Jewish wives must always be treated with respect. Shiksas, on the other hand are to be considered a valuable resource.
- When asked for any information, the answer must be the truth. However, giving a long, complicated and convoluted answer is fine, especially if you're a rabbi. Also, the answer must be phrased in a form of a question.
- Money cannot be appropriated if it belongs to others or to other families. Mineral rights, shares etc. are fair game.
- People who can't be part of Kosher Nostra: anyone who has a close relative in the police, anyone with a two-timing relative in the family, anyone who behaves badly and doesn't hold to moral values. Also Mel Gibson, people who have a goy for a mother and those afflicted by any of the following: blindness, lameness, an unusually low nasal bridge, disproportionate limbs, a crippled foot or hand, cataracts, a white streak that transverses the junction between sclera (white part of the eyeball) and iris, certain types of boils and/or crushed testicles. Don't ask us why, they're chukim and who are we to argue? Oh, and Mel Gibson.
- Make sure that if there are two members of the Kosher Nostra present in a room, you have at least three opinions.
- If there is one synagogue in a town with a presence of the Kosher Nostra, make sure to build another one quickly, so you can claim that "you will never set foot in that synagogue".
- What? I'm supposed to remember another 600...? Do you think I've got a hard drive in my head or something? Sod that.
Portrayal in Film and Popular Culture
The G_dfather (1972)
Francis Ford Coppola's classic portrayal of the Kosher Nostra is considered by film critics to be the finest movie ever made about the organisation, with even Jewish reviewers awarding it full marks on release despite it being directed by a goy. The film recounts the story of Rabbi Corleonski, who is the head of New York's powerful Corleonski Kosher Nostra family. In the first scene, we see the wedding of Rabbi Corleonski's daughter which is attended by cousin Johnny Feinstein. Feinstein, a famous klezmer singer, wants to break into movies and is trying to land a part in a film about to go into production; so he enlists Rabbi Corleonski's help, believing that the Kosher Nostra's fearsome reputation will pressurise the director into giving him the role. As is common amongst real-life Jewish crime gangs, the family employs a lawyer who is sent to Hollywood to aid Feinstein's attempt.
Studio boss Jack Woltz refuses to give Feinstein the part as he has not yet realised the actor's connections. However, it is soon made very clear to him precisely who he is dealing with when he wakes to find that the severed head of a $600,000 bagel placed in his bed while he slept - a well-known Kosher Nostra warning.
Actor Marlon Barmitzvah received an Oscar for his expert portrayal of Rabbi Corleonski, which was so convincing that it now serves as an archetype for similar parts in other productions. Many people, when wishing to impersonate a gangland boss, will adopt Rabbi Corleonski's voice which was characterised by its mumbled, almost impossible to understand language - in other words, very much how most rabbis talk.
Hillspiel's opening line serves to describe his long-held idolisation of the Lippman Kosher Nostra family, who control the criminal underworld in his native Williamsburg, a predominantly Jewish section of Brooklyn, New York. Like many young men, Hillspiel feels a deeply rooted desire to be part of something greater than himself, and so he begins making attempts to be accepted by - and eventually join - the Lippman gang. Fully realising the violent nature of the Kosher Nostra, Hillspiel's father is very worried about his son's future and tries to persuade him to study so that he can enter into his own family's traditional occupation - the equally arcane and ritualised world of the sofer.
Like all young men, Hillspiel pays his father little heed and soon becomes a member of one of the Lippman minyamin, where he joins fellow criminals in hijacking trucks - one scene is based on the real life hijacking of a truck carrying ten tons of kugel which took place in 1957 (the kugel, with a street value of over $200,000 dollars, contained dangerously high levels of egg and is believed to have caused a number of overdoses amongst kugel addicts). Before long, he is living the high life and spends most of his evenings in the Copacabana Progressive Synagogue where he can freely associate with women, some of whom - to his amazement - act as the hazzan or cantor during services. Gradually, Hillspiel becomes a victim of the excesses of his lifestyle - he is soon afflicted with a severe cocaine addiction, which affects his behaviour in ways he never thought possible such as when he exhumes the corpse of an enemy he murdered six months previously; an action entirely at odds with his Jewish faith.
Later in the film, desperate to find the funds he requires for what has become a cripplingly expensive coke habit, he becomes involved in another truck hijacking and as a result becomes the owner of $60,000 worth of shmurah (trans. medical grade) matzah which he plans to sell onto dealers at a massive profit. Unfortunately, while transporting the contraband, he realises he is being tracked by FBI agents and is forced to swallow the whole lot to evade capture and imprisonment. The final sequence of the movie, depicting Hillspiel in abject and excruciating pain upon the lavatory the following day as he tries to clear the cement-like blockage in his colon, eventually dying as a result of his internal injuries, is considered by many critics to be one of the most harrowing scenes ever filmed. Hillspeil earned his nickname, "The Golem," posthumously after a post-mortem revealed that the contents of his digestive tract resembled clay.
- ↑ Person who gets paid for writing things in Hebrew because they're so good at it (even the really wiggly bits).
Tallit differs from the films above in that its story is told from the perspective of a tough, hard-bitten rabbi on the side of law and order rather than from that of a Kosher Nostra mobster. Best remembered for its innovative car chase scenes through the streets of Tel Aviv, a city every bit as affected by Jewish gangs as New York, the film centres around Rabbi Frank Tallit's efforts to track down and arrest the Kosher Nostra member responsible for the murder of a student rabbi who had been given the task of protecting an ex-gangster who has turned rabbinical informant. Tallit manages to ram the assailant's car into a petrol station where it explodes, killing its occupants - but then he needs to prove that the occupants were in fact the men responsible for the student's death, otherwise he will be charged with the unlawful killing of two civilians; leading to various twists and turns in the plot that serve to fill the remaining 45 minutes or so after the producers had blown the entire budget on the car chase scenes. Despite having a plot thinner than a supermodel with a £600-a-day heroin habit, Tallit won a number of awards and is widely thought of as one of the greatest gangster films ever made - but mostly only by people who really like car chases.
Reservoir Hasidim (1992)
Tarantino's masterpiece about five Hasidim, who get involved in funny business on the way to the yeshiva, has long been thought a classic. In this film the five Hasidim, referred to as "Mr. Shlimazel", "Mr. Shmendrick", "Mr. Matzabreil", "Mr. Kneidalach" and "Mr. Xstein" are five heavily armed psychotic yeshiva boys, on the way to a study session in the shul, who end up embroiled in a loan shark robbery. After horrific bloody scenes during which the Hasidim circumcise various members of the loan shark's operations, they end up in a deserted warehouse, arguing furiously about the seniority of the Talmud's chapters of "baba metsi`a" versus "baba kama". The film is loosely based on one of the Kosher Nostra's more extreme Hasidic gangs known as "The Braslevs."
Kill Moishale (2003&4)
Following the success of Reservoir Hasidim and later on Pulp Shmendrics, Tarantino decided to continue his line of "Jewish Crime Thrillers" with his new hit - "Kill Moishale". In this film, a matched bride by the name of Yentel is dumped by her soon to be groom Moishale, who found himself a good looking shiksa, and runs off into the Brooklynean sunset. Yentel, outraged after becoming the laughing stock of the local Hatser, initiates a bloody rampage to annihilate all the members of the gang that helped him run off with his blonde shikse. Running across the five continents with her low heel yet comfy Birkenshtocks, wearing the necessary wig and dress, Yentel disposes of the gang members Elle Zilberstein, Oranit Ishai, Budd Levin and of course, Moishale himself one after the other. . In her journeys, Yentel wields a lethal weapon in the shape of a pair of custom made sabbath candlesticks, rumored to have been designed by the great Aharoni Nachso himself.
The film is, apparently, based on the life story of Ziva Klein, a female rabbi and the only female head of the Kosher Nostra ever, who is rumored to have heavily invested in the film industry. This rumor was never confirmed by Tarantino.
Dead Man's Scheichlech
While not dealing directly with the subject of a Kosher Nostra gang, Shane Meadow's 2004 film Dead Man's Scheichlech is nevertheless a well respected portrayal of the cruelty and violence found amongst Jewish mobsters. The film tells the tale of Reuben, who left his home town as a teenager to complete his mandatory national military service with the Israeli Defence Forces. As an excellent soldier, he soon came to the attention of his commanders and before long became a Mossad officer, where he learned an assortment of the covert arts for which Mossad is famous, including assassination and the secret to making really, really good teiglach Reuben's brother Amnon, who suffers from a learning disability, remains at home where he falls in with a local gang led by Rabbi Solomon.
Solomon and his cronies treat Amnon exceptionally cruelly, repeated calling him a schnook and bullying him mercilessly. Reuben hears of their abuse, and returns home to extract revenge - beginning with one of the gang's older members whom he kills according to the rules of shechita, slitting the man's throat with a very sharp knife, removing his sciatic nerve and finally salting the corpse to remove any last traces of blood in a scene that earned the film an 18 certificate in the UK. He then proceeds to kill the gang's other members, each time strictly according to kosher law.