Vox Tablet

Elvis Was Our Shabbos Goy

Some people lean on neighbors for a cup of sugar. The Fruchters, of Memphis, Tennessee, needed theirs to help them keep the Sabbath.

August 25, 2014
Elvis Presley with a cousin and two of Rabbi Alfred Fruchter's children. (Photo courtesy of Harold Fruchter.)
Elvis Presley with a cousin and two of Rabbi Alfred Fruchter’s children. (Photo courtesy of Harold Fruchter.)

We’ve all got our go-to story about brushes with fame, but Harold Fruchter’s is truly a conversation stopper. Fruchter, a singer and guitarist in a Jewish wedding band, and the son of a rabbi, was born in 1952. When he was a baby, and up to the age of 2, his family lived in the upstairs apartment of a two-story flat in Memphis. Their downstairs neighbors were the Presleys. The two families formed a friendship, and the future King of Rock, just a teenager then, learned to pick up the cues when the Fruchters needed someone to turn on a light or unlock a door on Shabbos. The Fruchters, for their part, helped Elvis out materially (if not spiritually) on occasion. Here’s the story of that friendship, told by Harold Fruchter. The piece was produced by Rob Sachs, with help from Bob Carlson, and first aired on KCRW’s UnFictional.

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