Thursday, May 05, 2016


Anyone in Your Family Jewish?

​   by Reb Gutman Locks   

Anyone in Your Family Jewish?


     Three European looking young men walked into the Kotel area. They did not look Jewish.

    "Where are you from?"


     "Anyone in your family Jewish?"

     Two of them shook their heads "No," but one of them said, "Yeah. My great, great, great, grandmother was Jewish."

     "On your father's side, right?" Sometimes tourists want to feel welcome and make up stories they think we will like.

     "No, on my mother's side."

     "Wait a minute. Your mother's, mother's, mother was Jewish?"

     "No. My mother's, mother's, mother's, mother was Jewish."

     "Are you sure of that?"


     "Are you really sure of that?"


     "If your mother's, mother's, mother's, mother was Jewish, then your mother's, mother's, mother was Jewish. And if your mother's, mother's, mother was Jewish then your mother's, mother was Jewish, and if your mother's, mother was Jewish then your mother is Jewish, and if your mother is Jewish…guess what? Then, you are Jewish."

     I grabbed his arm and pulled him over to put on tefillin. When I put the strap on his arm he looked almost frightened, and asked, "What are these? What are you doing?"

     "This is a Biblical command to the Jewish men and since your mother is Jewish you can do it, too.

     "We are told to take G-d's words that are written in these boxes and bind them as a sign on our arm and as a reminder on our head. It means that we will do what G-d told us to do and we will think about what G-d told us to think about.

    "Since you are Jewish you can do this too"

      I put tefillin on him and he read the Shema in English. Then I explained what a big day in his life it was, that he just found out that he is a Jew and it was the first time he had ever put on tefillin. And certainly G-d was going to listen to his prayers. I told him to pray for all the important things he could think of.

     When I took off the tefillin I explained if he wanted his children to be Jewish he had to marry only a Jewish girl.

     His friends had left without him and he ran to catch up with them.

     Will the experience change his life? I do not know, but I do know that this is what he came all the way from Austria to do at the Kotel.



  1. This man has the same yichus to the Jewish people that Elvis Presley had to the Jewish people. Elvis's mother's mother's mother's mother was a Jew. Her name was Nancy Burdine. I have seen the family tree. I think she lived before the Civil War in the US. I wonder if Elvis ever put on tefillin? I know that he gave a large sum of money to Jewish causes in Memphis. I know that he studied Qabbalah with the head of his road crew. (Don't ask me if that was a great idea.) I know that he wore a ruby studded Chai underneath his performance uniform on stage. (That Chai is in a showcase in his trophy room at Graceland.) But he should have put on tefillin. Someone from the Baron Hirsch Synagogue in Memphis should have convinced him to do so by placing a tefillin stand in front of Graceland. There is a different type of Wall there with lots of graffiti on it, not the Kotel.

  2. One small correction: Larry Geller from whom Elvis studies Qabbalah was his hairdresser, not the head of his road crew. Geller advised Elvis a lot about his Jewish heritage. I did some checking. Everything else that I wrote above is correct. Of course, Elvis's wife Priscilla was not Jewish. So his illustrious line from Sinai ended with him. I am not sure if his head ever held tefillin shel Rosh.

  3. Elvis always had a deep love for G-d. Now I know. This is also a neat story about the Australian.


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