The Religious Side of Elvis Presley


Elvis Aaron Presley – the most Christian icon of American pop culture – was Jewish.

In 1998, The Wall Street Journal published an article named All Shook Up in the Holy Land exposing Elvis Presley’s Jewish roots. Elvis’ maternal great-great grandmother, Nancy Burdine, was a Jew. Her daughter gave birth to Doll Mansell who gave birth to Gladys Smith who gave birth to Elvis Aaron. According to rabbinic law, which confers Jewish lineage by way of the mother, that makes Elvis Presley Jewish.

Schmelvis: Searching for the King’s Jewish Roots is a book about the Jewish roots of Elvis Presley.

The book includes the following discoveries about Elvis’s Jewish background: Elvis always wore a Jewish Chai pendant; he put a Star of David on his mother’s headstone; he spent his teenage years living in a predominantly Jewish Memphis neighborhood; cantorial records may have influenced Elvis’s singing style. According to the authors, Max Wallace and Jonathan Goldstein, Elvis grew up in a Jewish area of Memphis and as a teenager, lived downstairs from a local Rabbi, Alfred Fruchter.

The Rabbi’s widow, Jeanette Fruchter, recalls; “He was about 15 years old then and we got along so beautifully. He was such a nice boy, such manners. He called my husband Sir Rabbi.”

5 Responses to The Religious Side of Elvis Presley

  1. madmonq says:

    The man was immortalized on velvet and ate his weight in Spam and sweet potato pie. Are you sure?

  2. madmonq says:

    And I thought Neil Diamond was the Jewish Elvis?

  3. Rebecca says:

    Elvis Presley’s great-grandfather, White Mansell, married Martha Tackett in 1870. Her mother, Nancy Burdine, was a full-blooded Jew who probably came from a family that immigrated from Lithuania, probably around the time of the American Revolution.
    Elvis’ mother, Gladys, died in 1959 while Elvis was in the US Army and stationed in Germany. His father bought a headstone with bearing a Christian crucifix. Around 1970, Elvis had a Jewish Star of David added to the headstone.

  4. Ruth says:

    Elvis was a Christian raised in the penecostal Assembly of God church in Tupelo! However, he had Jewish heritage of which he was very proud. Elvis loved all cultures, especially the black culture. For a Southern boy back then, he was very accepting. Elvis’ Jewish heritage actually makes him legally Jewish because of the lineage through his mother and her mother’s mother. Gladys’ mother was Octavia Mansell who was born to Jewish Martha Tacket as is recorded. So it is Elvis’ great maternal grandmother who was Jewish. Elvis was cautioned by his parents not to tell anyone because in the south back then there was alot of prejudice against Jewish people. Later Elvis flaunted it by wearing both a cross and a star of David around his neck. He joked he “wasnt going to miss getting into Heaven on a technicality.” His mother’s grave has a star of David on it.

  5. Janet byrne says:

    His mother’s grave no longer has a Star of David on it. When the graves of Elvis and Gladys were reinterred in Graceland, the Star was removed by Vernon Presley.
    I contacted Graceland to ask why but never received a reply.

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