Detective Abraham Shoenfeld Infiltrates Jewish Criminal Underworld

Reference: JSource Original

As a direct result of the Becker-Rosenthal Trial, negative media for Jews had peeked, spurred by an abundance Jewish surnames emerging as criminals in NYC papers. This unflattering attention proved destructive to the American Jewish community, staining the image of an already less than popular ethnic/religious group. Shortly following Rosenthal’s murder, a prominent Jew named Judah L. Magnes (July 5, 1877 – October 27, 1948), who had helped establish both the American Jewish Committee the New York Kehillah decided to hire a Jewish detective to help put an end to Jewish crime in NYC and thus cleanse the Jewish image. With the help of wealthy German Jewish philanthropist, Jacob H. Schiff (January 10, 1847 – September 25, 1920), the two hired Jewish detective, Abraham Shoenfeld (April 24, 1891 –September 27, 1977) as the Chief Investigator for the Bureau of Social Morals under the Kehillah.

Shoenfeld, came from a Hungarian Jewish family and spent his early years living on the LES with his family. After dropping out of high school, Shoenfeld became fascinated with the Jewish underground. Prior to working for the Kehillah, he worked as an investigator for John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s Bureau of Social Hygiene, where he compiled valuable information on crime, focusing mainly on prostitution, a trade Shoenfeld took a particular hatred. Shoenfeld began his investigation with the Kehillah in 1912 while undercover, infiltrating the heart of the Jewish criminal underworld of the LES. He continued, documenting the events as they occurred, accumulating records, and compiling evidence that was instrumental in putting many Jewish criminals behind bars. In 1917 Shoenfeld’s employment with the Kehillah had concluded, though he remained an unofficial police informant throughout his life. His papers remain as some of the most historical and detailed accounts of 20th century Jewish crime in the U.S.

 For Further Reading

  1. The Real Jewish Gangsters of NYC
  2. General Theodore Bingham vs. The Jews
  3. The Eastman Gang
  4. Big Jack Zelig: The “Big Yid” of the Lower East Side
  5. The Becker-Rosenthal Trial
  6. Detective Abraham Shoenfeld Infiltrates Jewish Criminal Underworld
  7. Arnold Rothstein: The Modern Jewish Gangster
  8. The National Crime Syndicate
  9. The Murder of “Bugsy” Siegel
  10. The Kefauver Committee and Aftermath
  11. Jewish Gangsters Today

Table of Contents

Abraham Shoenfeld

Judah L. Magnes

Jacob H. Schiff