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August 5: Marilyn Monroe

August 5, 2011

Marilyn Monroe (Norma Jean Mortensen), who became a convert to Judaism when she married playwright Arthur Miller in 1956, was found dead of a drug overdose in her home on this date in 1962. Monroe and Miller had been wed by Rabbi Robert E. Goldburg, a leftwing activist who also oversaw her conversion (he was a life subscriber to Jewish Currents magazine and contributed articles regularly to our pages). Rabbi Goldburg described her in a letter as having “negative feelings towards Christianity and positive feelings towards the Jewish people. She often identified with the ‘underdog’ and at the same time had an enormous respect and admiration for intellectuals. . . . besides Arthur, her ‘hero’ was Albert Einstein . . . [who] represented for her the great scientist-humanist-Jew-Socialist-dissenter . . .”

“She indicated that she was impressed with the rationalism of Judaism -- its ethical and prophetic ideals and its concept of close family life.” —Rabbi Robert E. Goldburg