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Elizabeth Taylor Pledge: “I Will Be Faithful”

The story of Elizabeth Taylor’s new-found faith—a faith that has brought confidence and warmth into Eddie Fisher’s troubled heart—goes back to a Spring day when she and Mike Todd were first married . . .

It was a little after 5:00 in the afternoon.

Mike was lying on the couch in the living room of the big Beverly Hills house they’d just rented.

Liz walked in.

“Honey,” she said, “where would you like to eat tonight?”

“I’m not eating tonight,” Mike said. 

Liz sat down beside him. “Is this old hungry-horse talking?” she asked.

“I don’t eat tonight,” Mike said. “It’s Yom Kippur.”

Liz nodded. Then she sat back. “That’s the Day of Atonement or something, isn’t it?” Liz asked.

“The day we fast,” Mike said, “—and hope the Big Guy upstairs’ll forgive us for any bad we’ve done during the year. The day we repent. It’s that simple, Baby.”

Again Liz nodded. Then she asked, “And do you pray?”

“I do,” Mike said. He smiled. “Surprised?”

Liz didn’t answer.

Mike took her hand. “My old man,” he said, “he knew all the prayers. He was a Rabbi, so he knew all of them—plus some. He tried to teach me. Boy, what he went through. We used to sit in the apartment sometimes—when he could catch me—or in that dilapidated, tiny synagogue he ran. And he’d say, ‘Avrumele, you must learn your prayers if you are to become any kind of man.’ I tried. I was too wild—my mind was always filled with too many other things—to remember them. But I tried. And there is one prayer I remember, for Yom Kippur . . . one.”

“How does it go?” Liz asked.

Mike thought for a moment.

Then he closed his eyes and, slowly, he began to speak.

For all my sins, for all that I repent, Heavenly Father,” he said, “do not forGive me, no—but make me hate, despise, loathe these sins; and when I have curbed my temper, given cheer to others, spoken kindly of others, returned good for evil, abandoned my impurity, corrected my falsehoods . . . then let me feel Your loving arms around me. Then may I say to You, “my Father, and, within my heart, hear You answer, ‘I am with thee, my beloved child’ Amen.”

He opened his eyes.

“Pretty good, eh?” he asked.

For a while, Liz said nothing.

Sins in Liz’ life

“There are things in my life I repent,” she said, finally, almost in a whisper.

“Be pretty weird if there weren’t,” Mike said.

“But—” Liz said, “even though I believe in God, Mike, I’ve never found a prayer that I could believe in as much as . . . as I just felt you believed in yours.”

“Your old man wasn’t a rabbi,” Mike aid, laughing. “Maybe you’ve gotta have these things drummed into you.”

Liz shook her head.

“No,” she said, “it’s not that.”

Mike shrugged. “So skip your dinner tonight and say my prayer,” he said.

For another while—a long while—Liz said nothing.

“Then she said, “Mike . . . maybe I should become Jewish.”

Mike’s laughter was gone by now. “Why?” he asked, seriously.

“So I can be as good as you,” Liz said. “So, deep down, I can believe as much, as strongly, as you. So I can prove what I regret in my life . . . so maybe the rest of my life will be a better one.”

Mike sighed.

“The real God in a person’s life doesn’t come easy,” Mike said.

“I know,” Liz said.

“You’ll have to learn a lot, to study a lot,” Mike said.

“I know,” Liz said. “But Mike . . . I want God so much. And the God you love—maybe that is the God I should love, the God who will love me back in return . . . I’d like to at least try, Mike.”

Later that night, Liz looked up from the book she was reading.

“Mike,” she said, “do you know what it says here—in Ruth, in The Old Testament?”

“What?” Mike asked.

“It says,” said Liz, “But Ruth said, ‘Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. . . .”

She looked up again.

Mike nodded. “Maybe,” he said.

And where you die,” Liz went on reading, “I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if even death parts me from you. . . .”

Where you die . . . I will die”

Liz and Mike were parted by death a little less than a year later. Mike was killed in a plane crash. Liz was left behind to mourn him.

It was the most tragic, the most difficult period of her life.

“I want to die, too,” she said once, not long after the funeral, to Mike’s good friend, Eddie Fisher. They were sitting together alone, on the terrace of Liz’s big house. The day was gray and gloomy. There was a dark, cloud-filled sky above them. “I don’t want to go on without him,” Liz said. “I want to die, too. I can’t live without Mike. I can’t—”

“Liz, the word can’t didn’t exist for Mike,” Eddie broke in. “If he were here now, what would he say to you? He’d say something like, ‘Listen to me good, Baby—you’re just wasting precious breath!’ Wouldn’t he say that? He’d kid with you, Liz. He’d make you end up laughing instead of crying. But that would be his message—that the word can’t doesn’t exist . . . Liz, look up. Come on, raise your head and look up. Mike never looked down. Even when he was on top of the world he was always looking up.”

Liz shook her head. She wiped her eyes with a handkerchief she clutched.

“Why was he taken away from me?”

Then Eddie said, very simply, “We cannot question God, Liz.”

“God,” Liz whispered. “I sought Him. Maybe I didn’t try very hard. Maybe I tried to do it the easy way, not hard enough. But I asked Him to help me . .. and what happened?”

“We cannot question God,” Eddie said, once again. “Our very hairs are numbered. Liz, The Bible tells you that. Don’t you think that God knew better than any human could when Mike’s time should come? Don’t you think Mike would have told you exactly what I’m telling you? That he would have said, ‘You’re the boss, God . . . You brought me into this world and you gave me a lot of good things while I was in it and if you want to take me now—well, you’re the boss’ . . . Don’t you think that’s what Mike would have said, Liz?”

“Yes,” Liz whispered, “I do . . .”

An earnest decision

It was shortly after that Liz began to study the Jewish religion in earnest.

For weeks, quietly, she read her Bible, then the Talmud, and the other great Jewish books of learning.

Then one day she went to see a Rabbi—Rabbi Max Nussbaum.

“I want to convert,” she told him.

“You must be sincere, my child,” he said.

“I am,” Liz said.

A year later, the Rabbi was able to say: “We do not encourage converts, unless they are very sincere. Elizabeth was. When she first discussed her wish to become a convert with me, I wanted to be sure it was not just a whim. In a sense, I put her through the works. Not until I was completely convinced of her sincerity did I encourage her to accept the faith she was so eager to accept.”

A few days before the ceremony of her conversion, Liz broke the news to her parents. While the rest of the world was gossiping about her forthcoming marriage to Eddie Fisher, Liz talked seriously about other matters.

“I’ve never been more serious in my life,” Liz told them. “I have found that I can accept Judaism with all my heart and soul. I’ve found a peace in it that I have never known before. The Christian faith is a wonderful one, a beautiful one. But for me . . . I feel Jewish. I want to become a Jew. It offers me what I’ve been looking for all my life. . . .”

I will be faithful”

On the morning of the ceremony, Liz phoned her parents.

“I’d like you to be at the ceremony,” she said. “Please. Believe me. I know what I’m doing. And I want you to be there with me. Please. . . .”

That afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor sat in the high-backed seats of the pulpit of Hollywood’s Temple Israel.

Elizabeth, wearing a simple black dress and a black turban, stood beside the Rabbi, a Jewish prayer book in her hand.

The Rabbi asked her if she was ready.

“Yes,” came the strong, clear answer.

The Rabbi turned and opened the bronze doors of a marble structure called the Ark, revealing the seven sacred scrolls inside, each of them encased in velvet.

Facing the sacred scrolls, the Rabbi asked, “Is it of your own free will that you seek admittance into the Jewish fold?”

“Yes,” said Elizabeth.

“Do you renounce your former faith?”


Do you pledge your loyalty to Judaism?”


Then, Liz solemnly intoned the pledge she had memorized:

“I, Elizabeth Todd, do herewith declare in the presence of God and the witnesses here assembled that I, of my own free will, seek the fellowship of Israel and that I fully accept the faith of Israel.

“I believe that God is One, Almighty, All Wise and Most Holy . . . I promise that I shall endeavor to live, as far as it is in my power, in accordance with the ideals of Jewish life.”

When she finished, a cantor—standing not far away—began to sing.

He sang from The Book of Ruth.

Liz bowed her head as she listened:

“For where you go, I will go; and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”

She repeated the words to herself.

She had recited those same words once.

But she did not think of Mike now—the man she had loved so much.

Nor of Eddie—the man she now loved.

Instead, she thought of what she realized was the truest of all loves . . . of God.

And, her head still bowed she said, “I will be faithful.”

And she smiled and was happy.


Liz can soon be seen in SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER for Columbia and TWO FOR THE SEESAW for United Artists.