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From the stereotype of Jews engaging in this practice.
- (now offensive) A fire which is deliberately started to collect insurance money.
- 1974, Francis A. J. Ianni, Black Mafia; Ethnic Succession in Organized Crime, New York, N.Y., : Simon and Schuster, →ISBN, page 133:
- According to Manchu the fire had forced all the families upstairs to get out, the fire department had closed down the bar for repairs. Manchu said the bar wasn't bad off but the Jew collected all he could for fire and water damage ¶ "You mean it wasn't no Jewish lightning."
- [1996, William Kleinknecht, The New Ethnic Mobs: The Changing Face of Organized Crime in America, New York, N.Y. […]: The Free Press, →ISBN, page 31:
- The torching of overinsured buildings was so common that arson became known as "Jewish lightning." Forty-four percent of the arson cases reported by the New York Times in the 1890s were linked to Jews.]
- 2012, Jane Genende, Lost Tribe of the Andes: A Jewish-American Family's Struggle With Assimilation, Bloomington, I.N.: iUniverse, Inc., →ISBN, pages 20–21:
- The fire was a mysterious and tragic event upon which Mom is unwilling to elaborate. Was it a case of spontaneous combustion, perhaps due to poor wiring or improper storage of bulk dry goods? Or was it a case of "Jewish lightning" (a suspicious fire caused in order to collect the insurance money)? This is another family mystery left unsolved with all the individuals involved long gone.