Since Jacob Goldsmith and Lewis May opened their general merchandise store in 1849 Jews have made their mark on every area of Portland society, culture and history. From Bernard Goldsmith (1869) to Vera Katz (1993) the city has had five Jewish mayors. The state has had two Jewish governors and three Jewish Senators, most of them from Portland. Jewish Portlanders have made major contributions in business (Julius Meier and Aaron Frank), philanthropy (Ben Selling), medicine (Dr. Albert Starr), law (Gus Solomon and Irvin Goodman), literature (Bernard Malamud and Phillip Margolin), art (Mark Rothko), music (Ernest Bloch and David Schiff) and entertainment (Mel Blanc). Polina Olsen does a wonderful job of telling the story of Portland’s Jewish community in her book Stories of Jewish Portland (2011). Since Portland’s Jews have been involved in such a wide range of the city’s life it is no surprise that they have made their mark on crime as well. One of the earliest, and most violent, figures of organized crime in Portland was a Russian-Jewish immigrant named Abe Weinstein; but who would have thought that his name was so common?
|Boys' Government candidates at Neighborhood House in 1914. The "good" Abe Weinstein is second from the right; the "bad" Abe Weinstein is the first on the left.|
|In 1932 the "bad" Abe Weinstein was involved in a bombing campaign against rival gambling and prostitution joints in the closest Portland ever came to gangland warfare before the 1990s.|
|Abe Weinstein allied with the notorious DePinto Brothers in their 1932 campaign to control vice in Portland. Nick DePinto, the eldest, ran the gang under the leadership of Matchmaker Bobby Evans.|