Published On: Sun, Feb 4th, 2024

Last Jewish ‘Gangster’ Announces His New Fight Against Antisemitism

By Marci Shatzman   

Myron Sugarman was supposed to be on stage at the Wick Theatre to plug the movie about his colorfully illegal life to launch the Inaugural Boca International Jewish Film Festival.

Sugerman, now in his 80s, said he “did time” but never did “hits.” His announcement came after he and director Jonny Caplan showed the Florida premiere of “Last Man Standing: The Chronicles of Myron Sugerman” as the leadup to the film festival with 70 international films and speakers Feb. 25 to March 17.

And it didn’t take long for the self-professed “gangster” with links to the Jewish mob and his own hunting down Nazis history to get right down to business.

Citing “the rise of antisemitism in the United States and around the world,” he and an Italian Jewish immigrant friend have founded Jewnited Survival, or JEWS,” he told a sold-out audience at the festival’s Cinebash Patrons event.

“Our youth do not understand what it means to be a Jew… marching with pro-Palestinian protests. They have lost all sense of self-identity,” Sugarman said.

He advocated Jews buying arms and learning how to use them. “We have four goals: the need to defend Jews physically; teaching self-defense seminars; encouraging Jews to get weapons and know how to protect themselves. We must recognize the danger around the corner,” he said. “So you need to be prepared. The Jewish state (Israel) is our security.”

Told in segments, the Sugarman film chronicled how he made his living in the “family business,” the global manufacturer, importer and exporter of illegal slot machines, pinball machines, jukeboxes and cigarette machines.  

His father was partners with known Jewish mobsters Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Seigel, according to Sugarman and the movie. It showed how the Jewish mob stood up to antisemitism and Nazi violence in the United States from the American Nazi Party. That led to Sugarman’s association with Simon Wiesenthal, the famed Nazi hunter, who the movie depicts intervening with judges when Sugarman was arrested for his illegal activities.

In person and virtually, the film festival will present 70 features, documentaries and short films from the U.S. and around the world, and feature filmmakers, producers and actors. Screenings will be held at Cinemark Palace 20 in Boca Raton from Feb. 25 to March 2 and the Movies of Delray in the western suburbs of Delray Beach from March 3 to 17  

Patrons at the launch event included Marilyn and Jay Weinberg. Their Holocaust Film Series will present eight films during the festival and films throughout the year,  and is included as a benefit to patrons and passholders. The Billi and Bernie Marcus Year-Round Film Program will offer films throughout the year to the community and is also included as a benefit.

“Cinema, as a universal language, transcends cultural divides and speaks to the common threads of the human experience,” said Wendy Honig, festival co-founder, who also spoke at the launch event. “While this festival celebrates Israeli and Jewish culture, the art of film becomes a powerful force, reminding us that, irrespective of our backgrounds, we are all storytellers sharing the same narrative of humanity.”

Packages of passes for multiple in-theater and virtual films before, during and after the festival are on sale. Individual tickets start at $12.

About the Author

Discover more from The Boca Raton Tribune

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading