Sunday, March 11, 2012

Growing Up Jewish In The Mob:

A novel by Nathan "Reds" Cohan's baby girl
When many think of organized crime they think Italian.  In spite of growing up watching The Godfather & Goodfellas.  I think Russian.  Some of my all time favorite movies are The Sicilian Girl, A Bronx Tale & The Untouchables.  Though I've dealt with those who were Russian & Jewish within the lifestyle.  I don't associate Jewish with organized crime.  No one should associate any ethnicity, religion and/or culture with criminal behavior.  People make decisions as individuals and are accountable for their actions or lack thereof.  I share my perspective & life experience to illustrate the irony when I was surprised to read Growing Up Jewish In The Mob.  I of all people shouldn't have been surprised.  Yet, I wasn't only surprised.  I couldn't wait to get my copy of Growing Up Jewish in the Mob by Hillary Cohan.  After reading a mob daughter's tale of growing up Jewish within the lifestyle, I wanted an interview with the loving daughter of Nathan "Reds" Cohan.

Hello may I speak to Hillary?
Yes, who is this?

Mob Mistress from The Mob Wives Blogspot.
Hey doll, how are you?

I'm good and you?
I'm great & looking forward to our interview.

Reds back in the day on the phone!
Alright then let's start.  Why did you write Growing Up Jewish In The Mob?
I wrote the book as a way to express my love of my father.  There was a great relationship my dad & I had.  Though everything wasn't perfect and there was trouble with my parents, he was an awesome dad.  Reds was a great parent.  Sometimes people forget those in the lifestyle are someone's father & loved one.

Do you find a lot of people are shocked to learn some Jewish individuals are very much part of organized crime?
I've gotten a lot of shock from people who think it's only Italians.  What people don't realize is that often Jewish money has been the backbone of a lot of organizations good & bad.  The NAACP is just one of many organizations we were instrumental in being a part of from it's beginning.  The flip coin of it is a lot of people know nothing of the Purple Gang or Murder Inc.!

When you say Murder Inc., I think of the record label owned by Irv Gotti.  I think of Ashanti.
She laughs.  No silly Murder Inc. was a Jewish gang of (she pauses to find right words) I'll say they took care of people & situations when needed.

Tell me about your father Nathan "Reds" Cohan.
My father was born in 1910 and the first born child in his family.  His mother was Russian from the Ukraine.  Dad was a water boy for the Washington Senators.  He began his path in the lifestyle by running numbers.

As you were growing up did you know your dad was affiliated with the mob?
Nope, we always thought he was an accountant.  We had all these Italian uncles.  Two that we saw frequently were Uncle Tony & Uncle Guido.  Uncle Tony made the absolute best sauce ever.  I was his taste tester.

And Uncle Guido?
Uncle Guido wasn't so friendly or talkative.  He wasn't mean to me.  He just gave off this energy.  I was weary of him.

Do you know their last names?
Yes, but out of respect for their families I'm not going to reveal them.

An American Jewish Princess Hillary with her loving parents.
Fair enough, can you share some of your favorite memories from childhood?
I loved when we went to Florida during the winter.  I was daddy's princess.  He spoiled me with fancy dresses & mink stoles.  My baby brother would stay with the sitter.  I'd get to go with mom & dad to the Fountain Blue Hotel & the Seagull Hotel for dinner.  We'd have so much fun.

Tell me about your mother.
I loved her dearly.  We didn't have a great relationship.  She doted on my brother.  He could do no wrong.

Well that was only fair, you had Reds!
She laughs.  You're right I did have Reds.  He definitely doted & spoiled me.  When I did wrong, he was there for me not only as my father to guide me. He was equally there as my best friend.  He listened.  He heard me.  I absolutely trusted my father with everything.

Why was your father called, "Reds"?
He had bright red hair and freckles.  You couldn't miss him.  He was 5' 10" and the women loved him.  His personality was out of this world.  My daddy was definitely a charmer.  I can hear him singing, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."  

What your feelings about growing up within the lifestyle?
It is what it is.  I don't know what it's not like to grow up any other way.  I get the anger some of the Mob Wives display.  You grow up happy & in the dark about somethings.  You get older.  You realize your parents may be a little stressed & you have no idea why.  Uncles start disappearing.  Cops raid your house & threaten you.  You start putting the pieces together, but pieces are missing.  Many of us grow up in the lifestyle but we have no idea we're any different than someone else.

During your research for Growing Up Jewish In The Mob what did you learn about your father?
He made a decision.  He stuck with his decision and never cooperated with authorities against those he called friend.  He suffered for it.  I respect his decision and loyalty.

Do you have issues with others ratting?
I can only speak on my father's situation.  It's a case by case situation.  I was raised within the lifestyle.  You don't rat.  But I can't walk in any other person's shoes or say what I would or wouldn't do.  I'm just very proud of the man my father was.  He was a stand up guy.

The Cohan Family behind bars.
What are your  hopes for Growing Up Jewish In The Mob?
I hope is opens up people eyes that it's just not an Italian thing.  People from all different cultures grow up in the lifestyle.  I hope it also shows that even though we seem different and are in many ways.  We also go through the same things that those who aren't within the lifestyle go through.  We have ups & downs like so many other families.

Have you experienced any negativity regarding your book?
Yes.  A very big publisher called me to tell me I should be ashamed of myself for writing about this aspect of our community.  The individual happened to be Jewish.  Some within the Jewish community feel I'm shining a negative light on the community.  I get it.  I just see it as sharing my truth.  My father and my family don't represent an entire community.  I'm not writing that all Jewish people have ties to the mob.  I'm Jewish.  My family is Jewish.  I grew up Jewish within the lifestyle.   It's my truth.  I didn't have a choice in it.

If Reds was alive today, what do you think he'd feel about Growing Up Jewish In The Mob?
I think he'd be proud of me.  Actually I know he would be proud of me.  Reds was my biggest cheerleader.

Thank you Hillary for taking the time to speak with us!
You're welcome Mob Mistress and thank you!

Growing Up Jewish In The Mob was a very interesting read.  It's a story of an American Jewish Princess growing up within a lifestyle with an undying love for her father.  If you are interested in all things mob & mafia related it's a must read.  Growing Up Jewish In The Mob is available @ Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  I never met Reds.  But I have an inclination he's looking down at his princess smiling proudly.


Chiara Soprano said...

A very informative interview from someone who knows first hand. I never realized that some Jewish people were so involved in the mob. I'll have to get the book!

Anonymous said...

This was really a great read! Very informative. I was also in the dark and had no idea that Jewish people were actually very involved within the mafia ranks. Something I also noticed was I'd love to see a top movie selection from all of the mods on this board of their favourite mafia movies. I saw you listed some and I actually hadn't seen a few you mentioned! Love this site and keep up the great work!

Mob Mistress said...

Thank you, Underboss is our movie guy. You should read his take on The Sicilian Girl. I love that movie. Another movie you might enjoy is A Prophet.

Thanks for reading our site & taking the time to comment.

Anonymous said...

Meyer Lansky-Bugsy seigel- The Purple gang outta Detroit during probition.. to name a few..Jew's have been in organizes crime since aprox 1920's-30's on..thx..great Interview!!!

The Underboss said...

Yes. I have been slacking. I was going to do talk about A Bronx Tale. My personal favorite and Donnie Brasco. I am lazy but my favorite mob movie in recent past is A Prophet.

Hey you said...

I havent read Growning up Jewish in the mob yet, the interview is great!

MissCrop609 said...

LOL Mob Mistress @ "when you say Murder Inc., I think of the record label owned by Irv Gotti. I think of Ashanti."

HUGE generation gap there!! LOL!

Great interview MM!

Ann said...

I love your interviews! You really have a gift. I'm left feeling I just had lunch with the person. I ordered the book and look forward to reading it.

nadia said...

I love the interview iets so intresting to me i dont know why but i am and yet these men do all these things yet family is important to them and all well thats just wat i think and my take on it and i love the latest movie gangster squat its really intresting and i just thought of googling mickey cohan and then just googling about jewish mob and came acrose this id love to read the book. Are these reds family of mickey or in anyway related somehow if i may ask?