Why Elvis Presley Wore the Star of David and the Hebrew Chai Symbol Around His Neck

Elvis Presley is perhaps one of the most discussed superstars to have ever lived. Forty years after his death, the King of Rock and Roll still holds a special place in his fans’ hearts. There are plenty of things that most people don’t know about Presley.

The star was a religious person, and even interestingly got his foundation from attending church. Religion was a significant part of Presley and was even one of the topics he discussed with his personal hairstylist. The musician usually wore a Hebrew Chai symbol around his neck.

Elvis is still a celebrated icon

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley | Getty Images

Presley was born in Mississippi and moved to Tennessee when he was 13 years old. The musician was born 35 minutes after his twin brother Jesse Garon Presley. Unfortunately, Jesse had been stillborn. Growing up, Presley formed a close bond with his mother.

When he was 3, Presley’s father was arrested for altering checks, and the family ended up losing their family home. Presley and his family had to move in with their relatives. Presley’s teachers always considered him an average student.

After performing Red Foley’s country song in front of the class, his teacher encouraged him to sign up for a singing contest at the fair. The performance was his first-ever public performance, and he came in fifth. The following year, a young Presley received a guitar for his birthday, although he wanted a bike.

Presley recounts being very shy and not wanting to perform in front of people. He took guitar lessons from his uncles and pastor and learned to play some notes from watching his tutors play. In high school, Presley wasn’t popular with his fellow teenagers.

The situation, however, changed when he decided to compete in the Humes’ Annual Show. No one knew he could sing, so when he got on stage and sang Till I Waltz Again with You, his status in school changed for the better.

Presley was a triple baptized Pentecostal

When the King of Rock and Roll was a child, he was baptized by a Trinitarian Pentecostal pastor in his birth town Tupelo. As a young teenager, Presley got re-baptized by a Oneness Pentecostal pastor in Memphis.

After his death, the star received a posthumous baptism from members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Presley and his family always attended the Assembly of God. It is here where he received his music roots and also got guitar lessons from his pastor. There are, however, varying accounts that Presley might have been a Halakhic Jew through his great-great-grandmother, Nancy Burdine.

According to Chicago Tribune, Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker encouraged Presley to moderate his Jewish ancestry for fear of the Southern anti-Semitism. Presley also had his mother’s tombstone marked with a cross and a Star of David. His mother, Gladys Presley, passed on in August 1958.

Presley wore the Hebrew Chai symbol and the Star of David around his neck


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Although Presley’s father and manager feared that the star embracing his ancestry would expose him to potential danger, the musician didn’t forget his roots. He, in fact, always wore a Hebrew Chai symbol and Star of David around his neck.

The pendant around the star’s neck was engraved with the letters Yod and Het, which are Hebrew words for life. Presley is also said to have died wearing the chai symbol and cross. Whenever Presley was asked why he wore the pendants around his neck, he would say that he didn’t want to miss a chance of entering heaven on a technicality.

Presley died on August 1977, in the bathroom of his Graceland estate.