Crossing the Line: Southaven Chamber relocates and some Elvis trivia

Tuesday November 27, 2018

A maybe-not-so-unlikely alliance

Last week’s launch of the Unknown Child Foundation at Elvis’ old Circle G Ranch in Horn Lake brought together two seemingly disparate missions. But maybe not.

Organizers spoke of the way a higher power seemingly brought those seeking a memorial to children killed in the Holocaust together with those looking for ways to develop the ranch as a tourist destination. But more down-to-earth connections help explain the pairing as well.

For one, Circle G Ranch spokeswoman Whitney Lee Ladwig noted, the planned Unknown Child memorial and its organizers’ efforts to find a home fits in with Elvis’ spirit of helping worthwhile causes.

And then there’s Elvis’ Jewish connection, unknown to many. Through maternal descent, Elvis was technically considered Jewish because of some Jewish ancestry on the side of mother Gladys Love Presley. In fact, there was a Star of David on her tombstone at Forest Hill Cemetery before she was reinterred at Graceland along with Elvis and, later, father Vernon Presley. Elvis’ grandmother is also buried there.

Various online accounts discuss Elvis’ pride in his Jewish heritage and his longtime relationship with the late Memphis Rabbi Alfred Fruchter’s family. J.J. Goldberg, talking about Elvis’ “Not So Secret Jewish History” on, also talks about how the Star of David was omitted from Gladys Presley’s tombstone when the body was moved to Meditation Garden at Graceland.

Without the personal attention of Elvis — who had died by then — to make sure the Star of David was included on his mother’s new marker, the story goes, it was left off.

“You won’t see it on her grave at Graceland,” Goldberg notes. “The new gravestone, lacking Elvis’ active attention, didn’t get a star.”

But Elvis made sure his Jewish connection was clear while he was alive.

Now you know.