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Elvis Presley: Jewish King of Rock

On the 35th anniversary of his death, it’s time we claim him

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(Elvis with Star of David [Elvis News])

As an accidental past participant in Elvis Week, the festival held each August in Memphis leading up to the anniversary of Elvis’s death, I can tell you that very few Elvis fans consider The King to be a Jew.

This is fair. He sang a lot of gospel tunes and famously found solace in them. Writing about Elvis in Rolling Stone, Bono, the lead singer of U2, explained:

Jerry Schilling, the only one of the Memphis Mafia not to sell him out, told me a story about when he used to live at Graceland, down by the squash courts. He had a little room there, and he said that when Elvis was upset and feeling out of kilter, he would leave the big house and go down to his little gym, where there was a piano. With no one else around, his choice would always be gospel, losing and finding himself in the old spirituals. He was happiest when he was singing his way back to spiritual safety. But he didn’t stay long enough. Self-loathing was waiting back up at the house, where Elvis was seen shooting at his TV screens, the Bible open beside him at St. Paul’s great ode to love, Corinthians 13. Elvis clearly didn’t believe God’s grace was amazing enough.

As unfathomable as it might seem, a little known fact is that Elvis Presley, by matrilineal descent, was halakhically Jewish. A look at the nomination of Elvis for the Jewish-American Hall of Fame yields the following information:

Historian and biographer Elaine Dundy writes about Elvis Aron Presley’s Jewish heritage in her 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.”

“…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.

So Elvis’s great great maternal grandmother was Jewish and had a daughter who had a daughter who had a daughter that was Elvis’s mother. If you’re not convinced, here is a link to a recording (supposedly) of Elvis singing “Hava Nagila.” If it’s real, another piece of evidence in support of his Jewishness might be that Elvis (like some Jews) doesn’t seem to know all the words to the song.

Nomination [Jewish-American Hall of Fame]

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mikegre says:

Didn’t he record:
“Don’t Step on My Blue Suede Yarmulke”.
“All Schnook Up”
“Love Me Tender Brisket”

Sorry…I couldn’t help it.

Bono needs to shut up about things he knows nothing of. Schilling is the only one who didn’t sell him out? BULLSHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bono says that because Schilling is the only one he’s met from the Memphis Mafia. Like others Schilling wrote a book about Elvis and most of the original guys, which Schilling is not, loved Elvis and grew up with him. Bono spent not one minute with Elvis or the other guys but as he usually does he pontificates crap as if he knows all about every subject.
It gets tiresome reading erroneous things written or said by uninformed people. By the way, Billy Smith, Elvis’ first cousin who grew up with Elvis in East Tupelo and was like a younger brother to him, Billy’s father was Gladys’ brother, says the story about Jewishness is not true.
It is a fact that the Presley side of the family were all anti-semitic and that includes Elvis’ father.

    Easy Jeff , don’t blow the preverbal gasket . It is well known that Vernon as well as that great “American ” Colonel Parker were raving anti Semites ( like, ….what did the Jews , collectively do to them or anyone else to”deserve such animosity? ) and yet in all of this Elvis still grew up to be a “Menche ” , whether of Jewish ancestry or not and still from a family of anti-demurred , wore a Chai, a Mohen Dovid and had ashen Dovid placed on the tombstone of his beloved mother ( which Jewish boy doesn’t love his mother?) If the term “Menche”is unfamiliar to you , you might do well to look it up and try to emulate it’s characteristics .

      Guest says:

      Easy Jeff

      Easy Jeff;
      Don’t blow the proverbial gasket. It is well known that both Vernon the father and that “great” American Svengali manager, ” Colonel ” Parker were anti-Semitic scum (since collectively and /or individually , dem Joooos must have don dem wrong !) And yet , whether Elvis’s ancestry is , to some extent Jewish in whole , in part or none at all , spiritually and in many charitable ways , he still grew up to be a a real “Menche” . Interestingly enough, he did wear a Chai and a Mogen Dovid and had a Mogen Dovid carved on his mother’s tomestone ….everything a person who is not Jewish or has no affinity to Judaism would , of course, do. …..And he loved his mother . Oh,” Menche”? Look it up if you are unfamiliar with the term . You will do well to emulate its characteristics .

fallflies says:

Elvis wasn’t Jewish at all. It was a story his third cousin made up and told Elaine Dundy, the biographer. Since then it has been repeated everywhere.
More here

There’s no Star of David on Gladys’s tombstone…I have been to Graceland twice and have photos of it. Nothing. Nada. Sorry…

During the civil war, it became dangerous to be Jewish. at one point General Grant ordered all Jewish people out of Ky Tenn and other territories under the excuse they ran everything. Any business done at that time by someone other than the guys with the biggest mouth, it was considered black market. So all Jewish people where in control of all black market, because any business with a Jewish person was illegal. Lincoln rewrote the law making it sound less genocidal. So anyone who did not hail Lincoln and Grant as Gds of the universe where removed from their land. In the second law, even Daniel Boons family was robbed of all they had and run out of their territory. Some Jewish people quickly adapted to survival. I am still putting the rest of it together but according to my grandma, the salt box was the old ways, the shawl at the foot of her bed was a foot warmer, the lights just didn’t work on Saturday except in grandpas room.
Grandma talked to her self all the time when she would boil her coffee cup.
For some reason in my late years I can’t stop my self from putting it together even though it seems pointless.
But yes, you will find a lot of our fav folk artist from the ky tenn va mountains are unknowing Jewish.

effected areas.
General Order No. 11 was the title of an order issued by Major-General Ulysses S. Grant on December 17, 1862, during the American Civil War. It became notorious for its instruction for the expulsion of all Jews in his military district comprising areas of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky.

The order has been described as the “worst official anti-Semitic act in American history.”

General Order No. 11 is the title of a Union Army directive issued during the American Civil War on 25 August 1863, forcing the evacuation of rural areas in four counties in western Missouri.

They claim they revoked it, but than used it again in Missouri in less than a year away.
Meaning they decided to attack anyone who had something they wanted. Works better that way.
If you are unpopular in the mountains of KY – trust me, no one can hear u scream. Legal order or not. So you pretend to be what ever they want you to be.

Please be advised that Elvis Presley has not been
nominated for the Jewish-American Hall of Fame. Rather, the JAHF’s web site
indicates that “Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Sammy
Davis, Jr. could all be in the
Jewish-American Hall of Fame! According to rabbinic law, a Jew is defined as
either a person born of a Jewish mother or one who has been converted to
Judaism. Thus Elvis Presley was Jewish the old fashioned way – through maternal
descent, while Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Sammy Davis Junior all
converted.” Submitted by Mel Wacks, Director of the Jewish-American Hall of Fame.

holdmewhileimnaked says:

at this point, sadly, i dont think this can be proven or disproven.
both it & the elvis as shabbos goy story are warmly fabulous, however. & he surely had an affinity & even having an affinity was odd for his time &, particularly, his place.

let’s not be like the Mormons, remaking the dead in their latter day saintly images.
Obviously halchically he was qualified to be Jewish.Elvis was close to the Jewish Commuinity in Memphis and he even worked for a distant Jewish relative of our family. Later on he was very close with a very devoted Jewish philantropist who was in the the music business. the King had ample opportunity to identify as a Jew if he desired
to, so let things stay as they are.

    There is a HUGE difference between Mormons baptizing our dead- and everyone else’s and someone tracing valid genealogical information. I know what you mean but I find even the comparison offensive. I do not think anyone is really trying to say he is a Jew.

I will be 87 next month and hope to outlive the cacophonous caterwauling that is rock. I would rather claim Louie Armstrong and Cole Porter as Jewish rather than Elvis.

Elvis’ Jewish mother had a Jewish girlfriend whose son lives in Israel. He claims that when Elvis’ mother married out of the faith the family cut her off. Young Elvis lived next door to a Jewish rabbi’s family. He babysat for the family and when he heard Shabbat zmirot through the common wall, he’d play accompaniment.

Not that it makes any real difference but here’s Nate Bloom:

Presley was not Jewish. Yes, some sources repeat a tall tale that Presley’s third cousin told 20 years ago to a Jewish biographer of Presley. This cousin said that he and Presley shared a very remote Jewish maternal ancestor (a woman who lived in the early to mid 1800’s)

This biographer did no further checking on this cousin’s story. She just reported it as “fact.”

A detailed check of available records shows that this maternal ancestor was not Jewish. Presley and his parents did share a two-family house in Memphis, Tenn. with a poor Orthodox rabbi and his family in the early ’50s.

I spoke to the daughter of this rabbi. Her mother, the rabbi’s wife, and Presley’s mother, Gladys, were close friends. Gladys, her mother told her, never said a word about any Jewish ancestor. Her mother said that if Gladys had any knowledge of any Jewish ancestor, the mother was sure Gladys wouldn’t have hesitated to mention it.

Presley worked for the rabbi’s family, doing tasks Jews were not permitted to do on the Jewish Sabbath. He did this for free. The rabbi, in turn, did things like lend Presley his record player and arrange for a summer camp trip for Presley. When Presley hit it big, he made a major donation to the rabbi’s religious school.

As I often tell people, the true story of the lovely relations between this rabbi’s family and the Presley family is a more important and meaningful story than a story about Presley having a remote Jewish maternal ancestor.

fatbob pallard says:

I heard he was in New “pal”tz. Haha, where’s the m. damn it’s twizzted, like hang on folks, really. Best off watching “outer limits” episodes for the real old news. Seriously, aint no paid shill here, just getting yah ready, as the northern winds blow.

Hmmm … interesting given the story that Elvis was a Shabbos goy as a child.

Brad Crystal says:

It’s also interesting to note that three of Elvis’ closest friends and confidants were Jewish, including George Klein, Marty Lacker (who served as best man at Elvis’ wedding), and Alan Fortas (nephew of US Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas).


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Elvis Presley: Jewish King of Rock

On the 35th anniversary of his death, it’s time we claim him

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