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A Jew'S Opinion On Baptism For The Dead


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Devout Mormons are expected to spend their golden years in service of the Church working in their temples, which, in large part, consists of Baptizing the dead. In time the Mormon Church will have Baptized every person who ever lived.

Great opinion piece.

Not that the professionally offended will take any notice.

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This fellow seems to get it.

The article has at least five errors about the practice and our beliefs concerning it. Nonetheless, he's philosophically right: what we do in the Temple does not affect their Jewishness, nor does does it change anything else about them if they do not choose to change


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“FYI, discovered today: Posthumous baptisms for the parents of Simon Wiesenthal. I am collecting evidence, which will be e-mailed to you, if requested, as long as there is a public stink.” – e-mail sent by anti-Mormon genealogy researcher Helen Radkey to Rabbi Abraham Cooper, February 8, 2012

This kind of tells you what kind of person she is.

Last week the charade involving a group of leaders in the Jewish community and the LDS Church’s practice of proxy immersions reached a new low. Elie Wiesel, one of the towering moral figures of our age, found out that his father and grandfather’s names had been submitted by a disobedient member of the church for temple ordinances. The church quickly canceled the submissions, but not before Mr. Wiesel had called on the church (via the Huffington Post) to stop performing temple ordinances for all Jews, not just Holocaust victims. He then asked Mitt Romney to “speak to his own church” about the issue. With all due respect to Mr. Wiesel (and considerable respect is due), he would probably do more good by suggesting to certain Jewish leaders that they mind their own business.

I’m giving Elie Wiesel a pass on this because he’s 83 and – more importantly – because he was born in Romania, my new wife’s homeland, and she’s a big fan. However, I can no longer cast a benign eye on the nefarious goings-on at the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) in Los Angeles. SWC Rabbis Hier and Cooper have greatly overplayed their hand with their latest temper tantrum, and I’m going to call them on it. This is easily the most painful article that I have written for this blog, and I regret very much that I need to address this topic again. However, there is a limit to everyone’s patience. I have reached mine.


Many an Orthodox rabbi has complained to me of the liberties taken with Jewish law by their colleagues in more liberal movements. Whatever the sins of Reform rabbis may be, they pale in comparison to the SWC’s unwarranted extension of halachic authority to the olam ha-ba (afterlife).

In the early 90s, a group of Jewish leaders approached the church after discovering that a few members had submitted – in violation of church rules – names of Holocaust victims for LDS temple ordinances. Although these ordinances do NOT confer membership in the church, the leaders claimed to be offended. They even made the bizarre claim that if this issue were not addressed further, future generations might think that Mormons, not Jews, were killed during the Holocaust (I am not making this up).

Had I been in charge of the LDS delegation to the initial meeting, it would have been a short one. I would have started off by asking the leaders what authority they had to represent dead Jews. The answer? None. One of them, Ernest Michel, headed up a Holocaust survivors’ group, but representing the living was as far as his writ extended. There is an interesting paradox in Jewish life that never ceases to amaze me. On the one hand, Jews freely admit that no one in the world can speak on behalf of all Jews. Judaism has no hierarchy, no pope, no president, no high priest (at least not for 2,000 years). However, this fact does not discourage Jewish leaders from seeking opportunities to represent the entire Jewish community to non-Jewish groups, especially churches, if there is some personal benefit in it for them.

I want Jews and Mormons to know that Rabbi Marvin Hier and Rabbi Abraham Cooper have for years been paying an anti-Mormon (and ex-Mormon) researcher for years to dig up names of Jews that errant members have submitted for temple ordinances. Helen Radkey tried at first to provoke the Catholic Church into denouncing the Mormon Church by offering it names of prominent Catholics who had had ordinances performed for them. [she also tried to blackmail the LDS Church into paying her $30,000 + expenses to go away, but I digress]. The Catholics told her to go get a life, so she offered her services to the good rabbis at SWC, who were happy to pay her fee.


Rabbis Hier and Cooper have no standing whatsoever to demand that a church change its religious practices because they’re offended by them. They tried that with the Catholics (e.g., the resurrected Good Friday prayer), and were politely told to mind their own business. I long for the day when the rabbis’ latest temper tantrum will be met with a shrug by both Mormons and Jews.

I think this article says it all.


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