Shalom Life | May 28, 2015

Elvis Presley: An Unlikely ‘Nice Jewish Boy’

Decoding the King of Rock and Roll’s Jewish roots

By: Sammy Hudes

Published: August 17th, 2012 in Culture » Music » News

Elvis Presley: An Unlikely ‘Nice Jewish Boy’

Thursday marked the 35th anniversary of the death of rock and roll legend Elvis Presley.

Although it may be more appropriate to refer to yesterday as the yahrtzeit, as it is called in Judaism, of the King of Rock and Roll, because new evidence has surfaced which reveals Presley’s Jewish heritage.

Tablet Magazine pointed out Elvis’ nomination for the Jewish-American Hall of Fame, which cites historian and biographer Elaine Dundy’s book, “Elvis and Gladys.”

“...Nancy Burdine was married to Abner Tackett (Elvis’ great great maternal grandmother). Nancy was of particular interest to Gladys for her Jewish heritage, often remembering Nancy's sons for their Jewish names Sidney and Jerome. Nancy and Abner had a daughter Martha who married White Mansell. The daughter which they named Octavia, nick-named Doll, who was Elvis' maternal grandmother.”

According to Jewish halakha, one is Jewish if he or she is born to a Jewish mother. For Elvis, this was technically the case.

“…Doll and Robert had nine children. Gladys Love was the fifth daughter born followed by 3 more brothers and one sister. After his mother died, Elvis personally sought to design his beloved mother’s gravesite which included a Star of David on Gladys Love Presley’s tombstone. The decision was made by him in honor of his Jewish heritage. Something his mother was proud of and acknowledged to Elvis at a very early age.”


Star of David on the tombstone of Gladys Love Presley. Photo: ElvisPresleyNews.com

Although the Star of David was engraved on his mother’s headstone following her passing in 1959, her and Elvis' bodies had to later be moved due to a 1977 break-in attempt to steal Elvis' body. The current grave does not include a Star of David.

The book also states that Elvis made an effort later on in his life to become familiar with Jewish teachings, the Hebrew alphabet and its symbols. In 1977, he was often seen wearing a Chai necklace, symbolizing the Hebrew word for “life,” just as he did during a 1972 concert in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Elvis Presley seen wearing a Star of David necklace. Photo: ElvisPresleyNews.com

“When Charlie Hodge asked Elvis why this particular piece of jewelry was so important, Elvis replied, ‘I don’t want to miss out on goin' to heaven on a technicality.’”

In the video below, Elvis apparently also recorded a performance of him singing Hava Nagila. Enjoy:


Al Pacino Pulls Out of 'Nazi' Play Written by Hitler Supporter Al Pacino Pulls Out of 'Nazi' Play Written by Hitler Supporter TrendingFace the Music Toronto Offers A Night of Great Music, and For a Good Cause Face the Music Toronto Offers A Night of Great Music, and For a Good Cause TrendingIN PHOTOS: Israel's 2nd Annual Burning Man Festival IN PHOTOS: Israel's 2nd Annual Burning Man Festival Trending
 

Toronto Teens Launch Summer Camp 'Tikkun Olam' Project

May 28, 2015 | By Shalom Life Staff
Toronto Teens Launch Summer Camp 'Tikkun Olam' Project

One Stop Camp Shop aims to make getting ready for camp a much easier process

Read More

Despite Calls to Ban Action Bronson's NXNE Set, the Show Will Go On

May 27, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
Despite Calls to Ban Action Bronson's NXNE Set, the Show Will Go On

Change.org launches petition that accuses the rapper of glorifying "gang-raping" and "murdering women"

Read More

Warren Buffet Invests in Israeli Company, Again

May 27, 2015 | By Viva Sarah Press
Warren Buffet Invests in Israeli Company, Again

Ramat Gan-based energy savings solution company, eVolution Networks, completes $22.5 million funding round

Read More

”Remove the Flag or Leave the Apartment," Vienna Landlord tells Jewish Tenant

May 27, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
”Remove the Flag or Leave the Apartment," Vienna Landlord tells Jewish Tenant

Tenant ordered to remove Israeli flag from window, or face eviction

Read More

Muslim Televangelist Warns Followers that Masturbation Will Lead to Hand-Pregnancies

May 27, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
Muslim Televangelist Warns Followers that Masturbation Will Lead to Hand-Pregnancies

A warning from a Muslim televangelist urges viewers not to masturbate, lest their hands become pregnant in the afterlife

Read More

How Should Pro-Israel Voices Tackle the War of Ideas on College Campuses?

May 27, 2015 | By Jeffrey F. Barken, JNS.org
How Should Pro-Israel Voices Tackle the War of Ideas on College Campuses?

While organizations are fighting against the BDS movement on campus, some experts claim that not enough Jewish students are "fighting back"

Read More

WATCH: David Blatt Leaves LeBron James Hanging on a High-Five

May 27, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
WATCH: David Blatt Leaves LeBron James Hanging on a High-Five

The Israeli NBA coach and King James were caught having a pow-wow during the Cavs' romp over the Atlanta Hawks

Read More

New Bill Would Have Israeli Students Learn Both Hebrew and Arabic From the 1st Grade

May 27, 2015 | By B. Shane Morganstein
New Bill Would Have Israeli Students Learn Both Hebrew and Arabic From the 1st Grade

"Knowing the language of the other is the basis for understanding and mutual respect, which are necessary in the current situation in Israel"

Read More

More Headlines