The Great Jewish “Fence” of the 19th-Century New York Underworld

For a quarter-century, New York City’s most successful dealer in stolen goods was a German-Jewish immigrant named Fredericka “Marm” Mandelbaum. Allan Levine tells her story:

Mandelbaum portrayed herself as the owner of a modest dry goods and haberdashery store on Clinton Street in the Lower East Side; a widow after her husband, Wolf, died in 1875, the mother of four children, and a respected member of Congregation Temple Rodeph Sholom, then located near her store and home. (The store was on the ground floor and the family’s luxurious apartment was on the second and third floors.)

Yet in reality, for more than two decades Marm Mandelbaum was the premier “receiver of stolen goods” in New York City. Known throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, she operated an extensive criminal enterprise, supported by a small army of thieves, burglars, pickpockets, shoplifters, and “second-story” climbers who worshipped her. But she was protected or ignored by New York City police officers and detectives, who were willfully blind to her illegal activities, or were paid off by her.

Mandelbaum’s rise to infamy in the New York crime world was a matter of circumstance. In 1850, the twenty-five-year-old Fredericka (Weisner) Mandelbaum joined her husband, Wolf Mandelbaum, who had journeyed to New York sometime earlier. They were among the 3 million German-speaking immigrants escaping economic hardship and restrictive government regulation who arrived in the United States in the period from 1820 to 1880, of whom an estimated 150,000 were Jewish. Many German Jews and non-Jews ended up in New York City, where, like Fredericka and Wolf, they settled in the crowded tenement houses of Kleindeutschland (Little Germany), the East Side neighborhood.

Read more at Tablet

More about: American Jewish History, Crime, New York City

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7