Elizabeth Taylor was a superstar American actress and model. She converted to Judaism after the death of her Jewish husband Mike Todd. According to biographer Kitty Kelley, Taylor felt empathy for Jews after their persecution during World War II, and felt “attached” to the Jewish heritage.
After her year long process of conversion, Taylor took the Hebrew name Elisheba Rachel.
Elizabeth’s Jewish identity proved to be an obstacle during the 1962 production of the movie “Cleopatra”, when the Egyptian government announced that “Miss Taylor will not be allowed to come to Egypt because she has adopted the Jewish faith and supports Israeli causes.”
Ultimately, the ban was lifted and the movie was filmed in Egypt as planned. Elizabeth further established her voice as a Jew by publicly condemning the UN’s “ Zionism is Racism” resolution in 1975.
She affiliated herself with Jewish organizations, and raised a great deal of money for Jewish and and Israel-related charities. She also narrated a Simon Wiesenthal Center film about the Holocaust.
One of Elizabeth’s most memorable actions was linked to the 1976 Operation Entebbe.
After terrorists hijacked an Israeli flight, and made outrageous demands, Taylor offered to help by trading herself for the kidnapped passengers.
The Israeli Ambassador politely declined her offer, but told her that the Jewish people will never forget her generosity.
After Elizabeth died, Rabbi Jerry Cutler followed her instructions to begin the ceremony 15 minutes late, so she could be late for her own funeral.
Elisheba Rachel, yours is a unique and stylish soul! May you be wrapped in the bonds of eternal life, and your memory always be for a blessing!
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Learn more about the incredible story of Israel’s 1976 rescue operation in Entebbe.