Yiddish Black Hand

AZL flag holder TransparentThe Yiddish Black Hand or Jewish Black Hand Association was a Jewish criminal organization Led by Jacob “Johnny” Levinsky that operated on New York’s Lower East Side during the early 20th century. In around 1906, from their hangout at a Suffolk Street saloon, Levinsky, with Charles ‘Charley the Cripple’ Vitoffsky and Joseph Toplinsky, began an extortion ring. They would deliver anonymous letters signed the “Yiddish Black Hand” threatening to steal or poison the horses of local pushcart vendors and other businessmen. Within three years, the ice cream manufacturers’ association created a commercial fund from which they would annually pay off the organization. By the end of 1913, having gained a virtual monopoly in their criminal activities, the three reorganized their criminal organization with Levinsky concentrating on extortion in the ice cream trade, Vitoffsky focusing on job offers between rival dealers and manufacturers of seltzer and soda while Toplinsky cornered the produce market, truck men and livery stables.

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