a Jewish Star necklace for most of his life? Armstrong was born in New Orleans on August 4, 1901. He was raised by his grandmother and also cared for by his Lithuanian Jewish neighbors, the Karnofskys. Louis started off as a delivery boy for the Karnofsky family and was soon given meals, a place to sleep when needed and even included at their Shabbat table.
Armstrong would later write in his memoir that the Karnofskys treated him as though he were their own child. Mrs. Karnofsky used to sing Yiddish and Russian lullabies for him at night before bed. Soon Louis earned $5 from Mr. Karnofsky which he used to buy his first instrument – a $5 cornet.
“When I reached the age of Eleven, I began to realize it was the Jewish family who instilled in me Singing from the heart” Armstrong recalled. “They encourage me to carry on.”
Fluent in Yiddish, Armstrong wore a Star of David until the end of his life in memory of the family who helped raise him.