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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 1, 2012/ 7 Adar, 5772

Outraged by Mormon proxy baptism? Not this Jew

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby



Memo to the kvetchers: Get a life --- especially when dealing with actions by strangers after death


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In a column many years ago, I described how I once attempted to chart a family tree. Most of my father's family had been killed in Auschwitz, and my efforts to trace their genealogy left me, I wrote, with a family tree that "has stumps where branches ought to be'' and "gets narrower, not wider, as it grows.''

A woman phoned me the morning that column appeared. She said she was a Mormon, and wanted to add the names of my father's massacred relatives — the column had mentioned about 18 of them by name — to the Mormon Church's vast genealogical archives. I told her that I certainly had no objection. Indeed, I was grateful for any gesture that might help preserve some remembrance of these family members whose lives had been so cruelly cut short.

At the time I knew nothing about "baptism by proxy,'' the ritual that Mormons believe gives even souls in the afterlife a chance to accept their faith and thus enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only later did I learn that some Mormons, eager to save the souls of dead Jews, had taken to submitting the names of Holocaust victims for posthumous baptism.

The discovery didn't trouble me at all. In Judaism, conversion after death is a concept without meaning; no after-the-fact rites in this world can possibly change the Jewishness of the men, women, children, and babies whom the Nazis, in their obsessive hatred, singled out for extermination. I found the Mormons' belief eccentric, not offensive. By my lights, their efforts to make salvation available to millions of deceased strangers were ineffectual. But plainly they were sincere, and intended as a kindness.

Other Jews, however, were offended. There was a commotion over the issue in the 1990s, and in response the Mormon Church formally barred proxy baptism for Jewish Holocaust victims. As a rule the ban is respected, but there are occasional violations of church policy, and the issue is back in the news following reports that Anne Frank, who died at 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, was recently baptized by proxy at a Mormon temple in the Dominican Republic. Relatives of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and the parents of the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal were also submitted for proxy baptisms. And now word of beheaded journalist Daniel Pearl, too.

So now there's a whole new commotion, with some prominent Jewish voices once again loudly expressing indignation.


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"Holocaust victims were killed solely because they were Jews,'' fumes Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. "And here comes the Mormon Church taking away their Jewishness. It's like killing them twice.'' The Simon Wiesenthal Center, pronouncing itself "outraged,'' declares that the latest proxy baptisms "make a mockery'' of Jewish-Mormon relations. Wiesel himself insists that Mitt Romney, as "the most famous and important Mormon in the country,'' has a moral obligation to tell his church: "Stop it.''

But if anyone should be told to "stop it,'' it's men like Foxman and Wiesel, whose reactions to this issue have been unworthy and unfair.

For one thing, the Mormon Church promptly apologized for the listing of Anne Frank and the others, and firmly reiterated its policy: "Proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims are strictly prohibited.'' Leaping to take offense at something the church has unequivocally repudiated is cheap grandstanding.

More odious by far is the accusation that a posthumous "baptism'' to which no Jew attaches any credence is tantamount to a second genocide ("It's like killing them twice''). What an ugly slander. Even to the most zealous Mormon, proxy baptism is simply the offering of a choice — it gives non-Mormons in the afterlife a chance to accept the gospel, should they wish to. You don't have to buy the theology — I certainly don't — to recognize that its message is benign.

As a Jew, I am less interested in what other religions teach about the fate of Jews in the next world than in how they affect the fate of Jews in this world. Rafael Medoff, a scholar of America's response to the Holocaust, notes that Mormon leaders were outspoken supporters of efforts to rescue Jews from Nazi Europe at a time when many mainstream Christians were silent. For example, Utah Senator William King — among the most renowned Mormons of his day — strongly backed legislation that could have saved Anne Frank and her family.

Outraged by proxy baptisms? Count me out. As my stunted family tree attests, the Jewish people have very real, very dangerous enemies. Mormons undergoing peaceful rituals in their own temples aren't on the list.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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