Sammy Davis Jr. and the Mezuzah that Changed His Life

sammy davis junior and his mezuzah

Yes, it’s true, the spiritual journey of Sammy Davis Jr. that would eventually lead him to Judaism began with a small mezuzah given to him by a friend. In 1953, Davis struck up a friendship with comedian and host Eddie Cantor, who gave him the mezuzah as gift. But instead of putting it by his door, as a traditional blessing, Davis would wear it around his neck as a good luck charm. A function to which the mezuzah pendant would soon prove itself  indispensable. The only time he forgot it, one fateful November night in 1954, he crashed his car on his way to a gig in San Bernadino, California. Davis’ face hit the steering wheel, fracturing the bones in his face and leaving his left eye dangling from his socket. He was forced to get an artificial eye and learn how to find his balance on stage again. After much soul-searching about his life up to that point, he decided to convert to Judaism. Later he would joke about being the only “black, Puerto Rican, one-eyed Jewish entertainer” in the world.

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