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Famous Converts: Elizabeth Taylor (1932 - 2011)

[description: a close-up image of a white woman with curly hair cut just above her shoulder. she is wearing white chandelier earrings, red lipstick, and dark eye makeup, and is resting one hand against the side of her neck as she looks at the camera]

Elizabeth Taylor was an American actress and pop culture icon, most well-known for her roles in classic 1950s and 60s cinema such as Cleopatra, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Her career also coincided with the rise of paparazzi and celebrity culture, and her personal life also left a stamp on her public reputation, particularly the fact that she was married seven times (to six men).

Although she reportedly had been interested in Judaism for a long time, the impetus for Taylor’s conversion was the death of her third husband, Mike Todd. She began to study Judaism seriously as a way to connect to him, and then made the decision to convert. Throughout the rest of her life she was involved in many social causes, including advocacy work for Soviet Jews, support of Israel, HIV/AIDS activism, and Holocaust memorial projects.

In an interview about conversion, Taylor said she found “comfort and dignity and hope for me in this ancient religion that survived for four thousand years … I feel as if I have been a Jew all my life.”