A movie has just been released called Elvis, starring Austin Butler as Elvis Presley and Tom Hanks as Elvis’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker. It’s long been known that Elvis served as a Shabbos goy for Rabbi Alfred Fruchter and his family, who lived upstairs from the Presleys. A Shabbos goy is a non-Jew who is tasked with performing certain jobs which are prohibited for Jews on the Sabbath, such as turning on lights or heating systems. Rabbi Fruchter was the first principal of the Memphis Hebrew Academy. Rabbi Fruchter’s son Harold later said that his father would not have asked Elvis to be their Shabbos goy had he known what?
A. That Presley was actually Jewish, thus making him ineligible to act as a Shabbos goy. It turns out that Elvis was descended from a Jewish great-great grandmother, whose daughter and subsequent female descendants, including Elvis’s mother, were all halakhically Jewish, though practicing Christians.
B. That their apartment building would always be swamped by crowds of young fans, tour groups, and others wanting to see the place where Elvis grew up.
C. That Presley’s father Vernon was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi.
D. That he would start dating his future wife Priscilla when he was 24 and she was only 14.
E. Rabbi Fruchter once saw Elvis sobbing in the sanctuary where students held prayer services at the Hebrew Academy. The Rabbi did not interrupt Elvis, so as not to embarrass him, but later asked him what was wrong. Said Elvis, “Rabbi, You saw me crying in the chapel. The tears I shed were tears of joy. I know the meaning of contentment. Now I am happy with the Lord.” The Rabbi was moved, and gave Elvis a hug. But Harold Fruchter later said, “It was only after my father had died that we heard the record Crying in the Chapel and realized that Elvis was simply writing a song that day. Had my father known that Elvis was composing, and not having a true religious experience, he would have been angry and not allowed Elvis to continue acting as our Shabbos goy.”