Jewish Tough Guys

My latest presentation on Jewish Tough Guys: Boxers and Gangsters as delivered at the JCC of Ann Arbor February 14th, 2018. As always, I wore a special t-shirt for the occasion.

The presentation covers the period between World War I and World War II, when Jews were a dominant group in boxing, producing famous (or infamous) world champions like Max Baer, as well as boxers with memorable names including Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom (nicknamed by author Damon Runyon), Jewey Smith, Ruby Goldstein (“the Jewel of the Ghetto”), King Levinsky (born Harry Krakow) and more. Many of the boxers had ties to organized crime figures such as Rothstein, Lansky, Moses Annenberg, The Purple Gang in Detroit and most famously Murder Inc.

This was an era when Jews were ostracized and lived in ghetto communities such as the Lower East Side or the Brownsville section of Brooklyn where opportunity was limited and Jews had to be tough to survive.

This topic speaks not only to the Jewish experience but to the experience of all immigrant groups in America and has implications for today’s minority groups.

Download as a PDF:

Jewish Tough Guys

From Tragedy to Comedy: The Origins of Jewish Comedy in America

On February 22nd, 2017 I gave a talk on the Origins of Jewish Comedy in America tracing how the American comedy scene evolved from the often tragic experiences of European Jewry. In Western Europe, Jews were struggling with the issues of assimilation versus identity. In the East, the expansion of the Russian Empire had relegated the Jewish populations of Russia and Poland into the Pale of Settlement. Fleeing to America, Jewish immigrants found themselves living in the ghetto of the Lower East Side. Yet somehow these same conditions gave rise to generations of comics that changed theater, film and television in America.

Follow the story of some of these comic geniuses who learned to Laugh Through The Tears:

Laughing Through The Tears

Ann Arbor-Ypsi Game Dev Meetup January Launch

On January 19th, 2017 we officially launched a new game development focused Meetup. Attendance was excellent with students from Eastern Michigan University, Lawrence Technical University and the University of Michigan, as well as local game developers, all attending. Two presentations were given by speakers:

Larry Kuperman, Dir. of Business Development, Nightdive Studios

Larry The Business of Games Final

David Cai, Co-Founder of Gaudium Studio


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