Now Tablet magazine has brought this fact back to the public consciousness on the 35th anniversary of his death.
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.
Meanwhile, here’s Elvis speaking some Hebrew.
About the AuthorAn Australian immigrant to Israel, Aussie Dave has been blogging since early 2003.
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