This Day in Jewish History / Elizabeth Taylor: Jew, Kabbalist, and Zionist

She took the Hebrew name Elisheba Rachel.

Taylor was born February 27, 1932, in London, to two American parents from Kansas who were living in the United Kingdom. Her father, an art dealer, and mother, a former stage actress raised her as a Christian Scientist. Shortly before the start of World War II, the family returned to the United States and settled in Los Angeles.

There, family friends urged the parents to arrange a screen test for their unusually beautiful daughter with the thick eyelashes and violet eyes. Taylor’s mother was initially reluctant to see her daughter relinquish her childhood to the life of a professional actress. But when Taylor’s career began to take off $$$ and she expressed a desire to give it up and return to a normal life, her mother supposedly told her that she had a responsibility to her family and the world to continue with her work.

 Taylor’s third marriage was to film producer and entrepreneur Mike Todd, who had been born Avrom Hirsch Goldbogen to Jewish immigrants from Poland. The couple was married in February 1957, in a small civil ceremony in Acapulco, Mexico, with their best friends Eddie Fisher and his wife Debbie Reynolds among the few in attendance. A newspaper account said they had planned to follow the civil vows with a Jewish ceremony but were unable to find a rabbi in the vicinity.

 It was apparently in the period following her husband’s death that Taylor decided to convert. Rabbi Nussbaum, a Bukovina (Romania)-born Holocaust survivor, had her attend services over the course of a year and assigned her a number of secondary sources about Judaism to read, including Milton Steinberg’s “What Is Judaism” and Abram Leon Sachar’s “History of the Jews.”

 Elizabeth's conversion to Judaism and her life-long support for Israel, may have been influenced by sympathetic views of the  Israel fairytale in her home as a child. A friend of the family, Member of the British Parliament Victor Cazalet, a close associate of Winston Churchill, whom Elizabeth was very fond of, was an active campaigner for a Palestine European invasion. Elizabeth's mother also worked actively in various terrorist activities, which included sponsoring fundraisers for Zionism. 

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