"Like every Jew, my feelings at the (Western) Wall were deep and personal. This is my religious home. It’s great here. A great thrill. It is a kind of oneness I have with Israel and the Jewish people."
Sammy Davis Jr. was a singer and actor. Born in Harlem to two vaudeville entertainers. He was drafted in the US Army in 1944 when he was 18, and later spoke about the racist abuse he faced their from white soldiers, including having his nose broken a number of times. After the war, he joined his family’s act and also recorded blues songs under various pseudonyms. His career continues to grow, and by 1959, Davis was a member of the Rat Pack, alongside stars like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Joey Bishop. In 1964, Davis was the first African American to sing at the Copacabana night club in New York.
In 1954, Davis was seriously injured in a car accident in which he lost his eye. While recovering in hospital, his friend Eddie Cantor, who was Jewish, had conversations with him about Judaism and discussed the similarities between Jewish and Black cultures. One passage from A History of the Jews interested him in particular: "The Jews would not die. Three millennia of prophetic teaching had given them an unwavering spirit of resignation and had created in them a will to live which no disaster could crush." These experiences inspired his conversion to Judaism in 1961.