Green’s Dictionary of Slang

schtarka n.

also schtarker, shtarka, shtarker, shtorikue, starker
[Yid.]

1. a strong, brave man (occas. woman), an important person (esp. used ironically).

[US]B. Appel Brain Guy (2005) 75: They called him Der Starker because he was taller than they, and his chest and shoulders were more spectacular.
Bk Buyer’s Guide LXXII:1 88: Each player gets a schtarka or strong man and a schnook as pieces and the object of the game is to Zap everybody else’s me.
Holoch & Nestle Women on Women 2 135: Her mother had always been the president, the commander-in-chief, a shtarka.
[US]J. Ellroy ‘Hot-Prowl Rape-O’ in Destination: Morgue! (2004) 275: Danny G. was a marvellous mensch and a sharpshooting shtarker.

2. a thug, a hoodlum.

[US](con. 1920s) ‘Harry Grey’ Hoods (1953) 135: In the ghettos of Odessa your fathder was called ‘Srulick the Shtarker.’ He was a well-known horse thief and smuggler.
[US]C. Himes Big Gold Dream 59: They said he looked like a starker, a real down home mugger.
[US]L. Bruce Essential Lenny Bruce 111: The schtarkers are a deterrent to the show.
[US]A. Goldman Lenny Bruce 18: A straight Mafia-type joint [...] Real shtarkas, dig!
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 103: The shtorikues made a bee-line for Mrs Fitzgerald-Gibbs.

3. attrib. use of sense 2.

[US]N.Y. Mag. IV 48: He’s got that ugly, down-twisted mouth, like the old shtarka goyim when they’re trying to be friendly. He’s got their hearty har-har laugh.