Marilyn Monroe's Prayer Book to Be Auctioned; Why She Converted to Judaism

Monroe wanted a family which she never got to experience during her childhood.

The imminent sale of Marilyn Monroe's siddur, or personal prayer book, has whetted interest in Judaism , the only religion which impacted the cinematic life story of the star. The siddur slated to be auctioned off appears to have been from the Brooklyn synagogue Avenue N Jewish Center which her husband attended.

Monroe converted to Judaism after she met Arthur Miller in 1951. They were then shooting the As Young as You Feel film. The two married after a whirlwind romance, and she became a Jew. Her siddur contains her many personal notations. The auction house described the writing “as if someone were receiving instructions on what prayers to recite/not to recite.” This is not the first time the book will be sold. The Christies auction house sold the book in 1999 for $4,025 with a number of ancillary items. The condition of the book can only be described as in disrepair with the book's spine nearly detached.

The title of the book is Daily Prayers, and the name is printed on its spine. The scheduled auction date is November 12. The estimated price is any number between $5,000 and $8,000, however, J. Greenstein & Company, the auctioneers, expect the bidding to go up to $12,000. Jonathan Greenstein, the owner of the auction house, told the media that other than the provenance, the same book would sell for a maximum price of $100 dollars.

It was commonly believed Monroe converted to Judaism as she believed the new religion would bring her nearer to her husband Miller’s family. This was important to her as she did not have much of a family from her childhood. Her mother spent a major chunk of her own life in mental institutions and her father met his end in a motorcycle accident. Monroe was a toddler at the time of his death. The iconic actress spent her childhood in multiple foster homes.

Museum curators and academics learned about Monroe's faith through the letters the Rabbi Robert Goldburg sent her. He conducted her conversion ceremony. The Rabbi wrote a few weeks after her death in 1962 to a Jewish scholar that the actress had no religious training all through her life except a few strands of Fundamentalist Protestantism which she rejected as soon as she received them. He wrote that Monroe admired Judaism's prophetic and ethical ideals and particularly the concept of a close-knit family life.


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