Shana tova to one and all! The Jewish holiday known as Rosh Hashanah—which begins this Sunday evening—is a time to place on foot in the past and one in the future. Those celebrating look forward to what the next year will hold for them, but they must also look back at what missteps they may have taken during the previous one. All of it leads to Yom Kippur, that “really sad” day when your Jewish friends aren’t allowed to eat or drink anything for 25 hours straight—all while standing in a packed synagogue.
This philosophy of anticipation and introspection is perfectly summed up in a brand-new graphic novel after famed Jewish gangster—the crime-committing chutzpah who helped turn Last Vegas into what it is today—Meyer Lansky. Aptly titled Meyer, the comic (now on sale from Humanoids) was written by Jonathan Lang, who imagines a world in which Lansky faked his own death from lung cancer in the early 1980s, and began to live a much quieter existence in a Miami Beach retirement home.
Not long after, however, life ends up throwing him a Godfather III-sized curveball and Meyer is pulled out of retirement for one last job that he might just be able to pull off with the help of an innocent bystander. What follows is a sun-soaked, Florida-based noir that would make Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs pack up and go home for good.
Proud of his Jewish heritage throughout his life, one could say that Meyer Lansky was just as much of a mensch as he was a mobster. As someone who can’t resist an alternate take on history with a Jewish twist, I just had to catch up with Lang and learn more about a graphic novel that makes for the perfect Rosh Hashanah reading…
Jonathan Lang: “Meyer’s origin story derives from a couple of sources. Meyer has always been a figure that held sway in my home. In the 1940s, like many new Jewish immigrants, my family did what they could to earn a little extra money. I had relatives that had very low-level jobs for Murder, Inc. (then the Lansky/Luciano gang). Also, around 1982, my father, a neurosurgeon remembered seeing Meyer in the hallway of Jackson Memorial Hospital. His presence struck my father; this little man had the entire wing hopping to attention. My father isn’t impressed very easily, so this was quite noteworthy.