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March 9, 2012 11:34 am

Let the Mormons Baptize Jews After Death, Who Cares?

avatar by Jeremy Rosen

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Albert Einstein, who was posthumously baptized by the Mormon Church. Photo: wiki commons.

Candidates for the Republican nomination for president have brought the Mormon Church right into the public eye. No doubt the successful, clean living, pious Mitt Romney is a welcome change from Broadway shows and television series about the Mormons and legal cases of patriarchs marrying multiple much-younger wives, not to mention stories about their special underwear.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) was founded by Joseph Smith, who claimed to have found, in New York State, golden plates inscribed with the Book of Mormon. Even though they soon disappeared, they became the foundation of his new Christian church that was regarded initially by mainstream Christians as schismatic and heretical.  He died in 1844. His successor, Brigham Young, led his flock off west to Utah, where they established themselves as a closely knit, successful missionary sect with a strong financial base. Its eager, cleanshaven, white-shirted, and flannelled young missionaries have spread out around the world, knocking on doors and offering to bring good news to anyone who still hasn’t had any or, if they have, have not realized exactly what the good news is. As with all religions, over time it has fragmented into different factions and degrees of religiosity.

The Mormons gained notoriety for (in addition to their former practice of polygamy) their concept of proxy baptism. You can covert someone who is dead, retroactively. Since they believe that only a person baptized can enter the Kingdom of Heaven, the idea is that they are doing someone a great favor, without needing to ask their consent. And of course the missionary gets extra Divine brownie points for every soul he saves, dead or alive.

To this end, the Mormons have built up possibly the most extensive database in the world of all sorts of archives that have been used to baptize almost anyone they could identify. In 1994, an Israeli genealogist, Esther Ramon, researching her family in the Mormons’ computerized International Genealogical Index, discovered that her grandfather, a religiously observant Jew murdered in the Holocaust, had been posthumously baptized as a Mormon. She alerted other Jewish genealogists who soon learned that some 380,000 Holocaust victims, including Anne Frank, had been baptized, as well as Theodor Herzl, the founder of secular Zionism, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, and scientist Albert Einstein. Negotiations between Mormon and Jewish leaders led to an agreement in 1995 to stop the posthumous baptism of all Jews, not just Holocaust victims, except in the case of direct ancestors of Mormons. But this has not stopped some more zealous members from still doing it.

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When I heard this story many years ago, l was, in the language of texting, Rolling On the Floor Laughing. “You can’t be serious,” I thought, “You want to convert me without my even knowing?” All the funnier given what hoops we Jews make people jump through who want to convert to Judaism! Well, be my guest. Make me an Elder of the Church, too, if it makes your day.

In general, Mormons, like Lubavitchers, are friendly openhearted, nice men and women who genuinely want to do good. They built a huge college in Jerusalem, on condition they agreed not to proselytize in Israel; my brother, David, was an acclaimed lecturer there for several years. However the only thing their religion shares with Orthodox Judaism is their propensity for large families.

The truth is that their notion of doing someone a favor is not unique to them. Why, even in the Talmud we say, “You can benefit someone in his absence”. But that is materially. How you do it spiritually is another matter. Some of our “latter day” rebbes seem to know how to do that, too (for a price).

The fact is that mainstream Christianity was into this lark long before the prophet Mormon. Romney’s main rival is Rick Santorum. He is a strict Catholic. I have no doubt he thinks I’m a lost cause too, as far as the Next World is concerned. Why do you think the Catholic Inquisition used to be so fond of burning people? Heard of the auto-da-fe? Perhaps you didn’t see Mel Brooks’s film, History of the World, Part I!

An auto-da-fé, literally an “act of faith”, was the ritual of public penance for condemned heretics in which the Inquisition burnt them to death for their alleged crimes against religion. After all, if they were going to burn in Hell for eternity, what’s a quick barbecue in this world that wouldn’t last too long and actually save them from burning forever. The church was doing then a favor!And since everyone seemed to find the burn up much more entertaining than the penance which preceded it, in popular use the term came to mean just the burning.

All this primitive stuff is based on the incredible arrogance of religions that think that they are in the sole possession of the truth and that everyone else is damned. I thought it a hoot when an ardent Christian told me, in Cambridge, that regardless of how good or spiritual a person I was, no matter what my relationship with God, I would burn in Hell because I would not accept Jesus as my saviour. In vain did I try to get out of him any logical answer as to why, or what product he had to offer that could possibly improve on what I already had.

I guess it is not so different than Chabad missionaries believing that only their way of dress and custom is the right way for a Jew to behave. And that the mere act of putting on tefillin or waving a lulav will save their souls. OK, not fair. They might share a Mormons’ enthusiasm for converting people, but they do stick to Jews and they don’t really believe everyone else is doomed to eternal damnation. Or what about those crazy Kabbalists who will tell you looking at a page of the Zohar, even if you understand bubkis, will change your life?

Frankly why should anyone give a damn about retroactive conversion? If that’s some religions’ belief, surely that’s their problem, not mine. And if it makes them happy, as they say in Hindustani, “Gey gezunter heit!” Sticks and stones may break my bones, but I honestly don’t think God will hold it against me if someone signs me up for subscription I didn’t ask for. If you get a chance, look up Steven Colbert’s sketch. He decided that if Mormons could convert dead Jews he was going to convert all Mormons to Judaism with a ceremony that involved taking a cigar cutter to a wiener sausage. And why not? It is no more ridiculous than retroactive conversion except that we don’t believe in converting people to curry favor with the Almighty.

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  • Victoria

    Just a little correction. When Mormons are baptized for the dead it is not converting anybody. We take the New Testament verses literally in 1Peter 4 that the gospel of Christ will be taught to those who have died and that baptism is an earthly ordinance. 1Corinthians it talks about baptism for the dead. Mormons believe that we do the work for those who have died, but nothing is forced on anyone. They do not have to accept it. Just clarifying. I agree, if you don’t believe then why the fuss. It is just another religion. I could have been offended today when I, a Mormon,(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) couldn’t touch a calendar of a Jewish boy in a class I was subbing for because I was Mormon.

    • Jeremy

      Dear Victoria
      You are being rather disingenuous
      Baptism is a Christian religious rite
      Although there are many good and righteous Christians
      There is a long history of Christian persecution and anti Semitism and for that reason many Jews find the application of a Christian ritual to Jews offensive regardless of what the motive is.

  • Steven

    Well it seems you Jeremy have again managed to rattle feathers. Without nitpicking on some of the sentiments expressed in your article, I have tried hard to make a sensible argument against this practice of posthumous conversions.

    So here it is in a simple way what is outrageous is the ” chutzpah” that these Idiots think that a people who were exterminated precisely becouse of their Jewish faith should be converted after their death. Of course from a jewish prespective it is a joke as no one can touch anothers faith, however it shows an arrogance and a chutzpah from the Mormons prespective and on this arrogance we SHOULD protest and raise our voice in anger.

    For two thousand years the christian church has been persecuting us Jews trying everything in their power to make us see their light but to no avail so now in the 21 st century it should be said to all of them enough is enough leave us alone and be busy with yourselves!

    • jeremy rosen

      Thank you Steven.
      You make the excellent historical argument that given the long history of Christian persecution of Jews there is a lot of baggage the Churches simply cannot ignore and be true to their ethical and spiritual mission.Its like pretending slavery never happened.

      My aim is to challenge and stimulate discussion and I really do appreciate your comments and welcome nitpicking, so please pick!

      Of course any discussion can only be fruitful if its carried out in an atmosphere of some degree of mutual respect ( some of the replies here ignore this basic rule of human interaction ) and since your comments meet that requirement I can only thank you for engaging.
      Jeremy

  • MY DEAR, HABIBI, MY LOVE:
    1) I am not hasid but sepahrdic Brooklyn NY. I resent the black european ‘aristocratic’ dress code hasids chose to wear.I resent the yeshivas wide brim hats for t he kids causing them to lose their sephardic and closer to ‘original’ hebrews custom.
    2)I resent the womand feminism movement needed to prove they too can have brains and be ”rabbis’, teachers,Rosh Bet Yud,Head of Israel.
    3)I resent ‘rabbis that need to prove they are cool and with it and modern.
    4) I resent rabbis trying to make irrelevant what these goyeem,non Jews do to a Jews minds causing doubts and confusions.Yes, a lack of Torah education is the root but no need to compound the problem in this ‘upside down’ world before Mashiach.
    5)I resent all xtians telling me what to do at he same time they claim to use Torah as the basis of ‘thier’ religion and mangod. If that was true then they would have uunderstood and follow the 1st and 2nd commandment loosely stateing ‘THE ONE GDs’ words’THERE IS NONE ALONG SIDE ME, THEIR IS NONE WITH ME, I AM ALONE’6)

    in conclusion, actually cutting to the quick:
    I RESENT THOSE THAT RESENT MY BELIEF, MY WILL AND DESIRE FEAR AND AWE AND LOVE, TO PRAY TO THE ONE GD OF EVERYTHING ‘THE GD OF ISRAEL,that all others claim to have their roots from.
    THE NATION OF ISRAEL WILL BE FEW AND WILL ALWAYS BE FOREVER.SOON MAY IT BE THAT ALL THE OTHERS WILL GRAB ONTO US BEGGING TO BE BROUGHT TO THE ‘ONE TRUE GD’ AT THE MT OF ZION. Whwen that happenes there will not be another other religiopns but Jews and non Jews (noahides) that want to serve only ‘ONE’.No statues,no graven images,only ‘ONE’

    AM YISRAEL CHAI
    THANK YOU FOR THIS SPACE,
    David Cohen
    jewswithviews.com

    • jeremy rosen

      David

      I agree with you on every issue except women! And I certainly agree with your implication that Ashkenazis have got it wrong. But I dont understand why, if Rav Ovadia Yosef in his first edition of Yabia Omer begged young Sephardi Bachurey Yeshiva NOT to dress the way the Ashkenazis did, all the Shass Rabbanim went ahead and dressed like Vuzvuzim anyway.

      Love to you too
      J
      J

      • salvage

        Huh? I thought you said that women can’t be ritual leaders because they’re “spiritually different”*? I would say that on some level you’re compelely in agreement with the gentleman on women’s intrinsic restrictions.

        *are you ever going to explain this difference?

    • salvage

      Two questions.

      1 why do you resent women?

      2 If your god is the only god then why are there so many? There were thousands before your god and just as many after?

  • salvage

    Oh and since you brought it up why are there so many sects of Judaism? Since it’s obviously the only One True Religion and all the thousands of others fakes it’s a bit odd that there are different interpretations isn’t it? Does your god like dichotomy and conflict? Does it hate Liberal Jews? More or less than Muslims and homosexuals?

  • jeremy rosen

    Salvage
    The title rabbi is meaningless. It has been for two thousand years since the end of official “Ordination” in Roman times and therefore anyone can and indeed does use the title . Most “rabbis” I know are irrelevant and a joke. This is why in my circles we draw a distinction between a Rabbi and a Rav ( just as we do between a Rosh Yeshivah and a Rebbe ). Rabbinic leadership should be predicated on knowlege and expertise and there is in my opinion no reason why women cannot achieve the same level of expertise as men. Similarly much of what passes for rabbinic actiovity has no rabbinic basis, I think of the pastoral. Anyone can do it. Old prejudices against women intellectually ( remember they couldnt graduate at Oxford until 1920 ) are disappearing. Not fast enough I agree.And there is still too much Male Chauvinism.

    But there is another issue , that of representation in ritual matters and it is more than prejudice or title that differentiates the female and male in Orthodox Jewry which has nothing to do with being or nor being a “rabbi.”

    J

    • salvage

      The title rabbi is meaningless. It has been for two thousand years since the end of official blah blah, semantic chaff, semantic chaff… any meat here at all? …. AH! Here we go…

      But there is another issue , that of representation in ritual matters and it is more than prejudice or title that differentiates the female and male in Orthodox Jewry which has nothing to do with being or nor being a “rabbi.”

      So.

      If I can cut through your well fertilized weeds what you seem to be saying is that there are no such things as “Rabbis” (weird but okay) but there is something that I might call a Rabbi that you cannot seem to name that could only be male.

      Right.

      So this representation in ritual matters can only be performed by a human with a penis, superior upper body strength, more body hair and the correct configuration of chromosomes.

      So the answer to my question is no, you do not think that a woman can be a Rabbi, the fact that you took such a torturous route to get there is rather telling.

      At the risk of an even more roundabout reply, why? Why can only men represent in ritual matters?

      • jeremy rosen

        Dear Savage
        I do feel very sorry for you, all that bitterness and rudeness. But you clearly have difficulty understanding me. So in baby language.

        Should the title “rabbi” apply to women too? Why not.

        Is there a difference between female spirituality and male ? Yes.
        Are some males more female and some females more male? Yes.
        Should there be options and choices? Yes.
        Does Judaism recognize different paradigms and models? Yes.
        Are there those who wish to see no change? Yes.
        Am I one of them? No.
        Am I Orthodox? Yes.

        Is that simple enough for you?
        J

        • salvage

          >I do feel very sorry for you, all that bitterness and rudeness.

          I know, it’s a shame I don’t play along with your sophismistic twaddle and yes, I am so bitter you can throw me on a plate for your next Passover celebration.

          It’s so weird that you extrapolate my emotional state from my persistence in trying to get you to answer a simple question.

          Why can’t a woman be a “Rabbi” (or whatever you call the ritual leaders in your version of the Jewish faith)?

          >Is there a difference between female spirituality and male ? Yes.

          So… this difference, that’s why? Can you explain it? Quantify it? It prevents women from what? Memorizing rituals and prayers? Holding the Torah aloft? Writing sermons? Explaining to the kids that Christmas presents really aren’t that great?

          Or is the issue with your god? It just doesn’t listen to woman? Hey, I’ve lived with a few, I can sympathize.

          >Are some males more female and some females more male? Yes.

          Uh.. kay… not really what I’m asking about but glad you acknowledge that…

          >Should there be options and choices? Yes.
          >Does Judaism recognize different paradigms and models? Yes.
          >Are there those who wish to see no change? Yes.
          >Am I one of them? No.
          >Am I Orthodox? Yes.

          Okay, so that’s a bunch of answers to questions I didn’t ask…

          >Is that simple enough for you?

          I’m not asking for a simple answer, I’m asking for an actual answer and if there are any big words or concepts that I don’t understand I will research them for a fuller understanding.

          Once again:

          Why can’t a woman be a “Rabbi” (or whatever you call the ritual leaders in your version of the Jewish faith)?

  • Mr. Rosen, why do claim that Mormons are “converting” dead people? Why are you using twists of truth to make your point? Why not stick with the truth of what a Mormon proxy baptism really is, i.e., an offering of a baptism with no compulsion or forced conversion taking place at all? Does twisting the truth make for a more sensational–perhaps even salacious–argument? It’s sad when stretching or twisting the truth takes the place of solid journalism.

    • jeremy rosen

      And tell me pray how you can offer a proxy baptism to someone who is dead and expect an answer in return “yes” or “no”?
      J

  • jeremy rosen

    Hey Salvage, Kettles calling pots black. Why didnt you explain what you meant by sexism? And did I not mention s spirituality? Why cant one accept anthropology AND spirituality? Is love incompatible with sex?
    J

    • salvage

      >Why didnt you explain what you meant by sexism

      Sure, but first answer my question, would you accept a female rabbi?

      >And did I not mention s spirituality

      Yeah, that’s another word for supernatural, I guess you think if you give it a new age nomenclature it sounds more reasonable.

      It does not.

      >Why cant one accept anthropology AND spirituality?

      Well let’s see anthropology is an established science that has granted invaluable insight into humanity’s collective history and spirituality is some sort of nebulous supernatural mumbojumbo that can cover everything from swimming with dolphins to trepanning to collecting millions to build a giant tacky church.

      One can accept them both or none all day long, doesn’t change facts.

      >Is love incompatible with sex?

      My parents proved that can be so but not really sure what your point here is.

      I suspect that you don’t want to answer any of my questions or points below and all of this is just chaff so you feel like you’re responding rather than refusing to address your delusions about your superstitions.

      Like does your god get angry if you do certain things after sundown on a Friday? When I was in Israel I was assured by an old man down by the Wailing Wall that indeed it does so I was to put my camera down.

      It wasn’t even sunset, I pointed to the sun as proof and was told they start the ban an hour before just to be on the safe side.

      The safe side of what I wondered?

      Do you know?

      See, I really think you’re not understanding a lot of stuff here. You should probably read more books that maybe weren’t written by Bronze Age desert savages.

      • jeremy rosen

        Salvage
        I dont know where your anger and bitterness come from or why you feel the need to be abusive. And I know a lot of nonsense is spoken about religion from people within each one. But if you genuinely want to have a calm rational discussion I should be happy to. Just focus on one step at a time. Pick your primsary point to start and we will take it from there. Its much easier to handle in this type of forum than a scatter gun approach.
        Jeremy

        • salvage

          Ha! Ha! Yes! I am bitter and angry, grrrr! Grrr! And I am so abusive! Asking all these questions! You poor thing.

          So this is your final bastion is it? The Uncle Leo defense? You’re confused! You don’t understand what’s going on! Can we start over?!?

          But ill play, lets break it down to bits you can handle, we’ll leave your theism to the side and focus on something more tangible, your chauvinism then:

          What do you ink of the idea of female rabbis?

          Hmm, that might be too much, let’s make it multiple choice:

          A) I have no issue with it, there is nothing in the path to become a rabbi or the duties of one that precludes a woman.

          B) Women are incapable of being successful rabbis because.. (I’m afraid I can’t think of any reason so you’ll have to fill in this blank)

          C) Women were corrupted in the Garden of Eden and the Torah teaches us that they are limited in their roles and abilities so they cannot be rabbis, the mere idea is profane.

  • jeremy rosen

    Salvage
    I dont understand what you mean by sexist. Unless you think I think you are a woman and I am being condescending. And if you ARE a woman why should I argue any differently?
    J

    • salvage

      >I dont understand what you mean by sexist.

      I know, it’s part of the problem, you don’t understand a lot of stuff.

      You should try, it’s important.

  • jeremy rosen

    Salvage
    Clearly you have encountered a very simplistic and primitive version of both Judaism and Theism of the sort that children or those with a less sophisticated mind might have been suggesting. To tar all Theists with such a brush is as unfair as taring all Atheists with Stalin or Pol Pot.
    May I repeat, of course if you set up a straw man you can knock him down.Try harder.
    J

    • salvage

      Ah yes, theist boilerplate D#34: That’s not MY religion you’re talking about! Mine only has perfectly sensible supernatural beings and realistic rituals.

      Theism by its very nature is primitive or are your prayers the ones not from the Bronze Age that are based on rituals that can be traced back to the Neolithic?

      What a delightful bit of ironic projection!

      Stalin and Pol Pot, yet more hoary old chestnuts that theist like to toss about. Sorry but they didn’t kill anyone in the name of atheism, a clue is that their revolutions were all about communism. They disliked theism not only because it was bollocks but rather it was a source of competition. When communists take over they centralize everything including power thus State eats Church or at the very least neuters it.

      I know, I know, Hitler was a vegetarian therefore all vegetarians are Nazis.

      Here, let me help, for a brief time during the French Revolution Robespierre most certainly launched history’s only recorded atheist based violent oppression of theism. It included the renaming of the months of the years because they too were named after god and it ended when Robespierre’s head was lopped off and has never been tried since.

      Shall we tally up the butchers bill for theism and compare?

      >Try harder.

      Are you sure you’re as smart as you think you are? I have doubts as you don’t seem to understand what a strawman is.

      But tell me your theism contains nothing supernatural, nothing that can be traced to Bronze Age mythology and I’ll be happy to stop saying it does.

      I can’t help but notice you haven’t disagreed directly with anything I’ve said, you seem more upset that I’m saying it. Why do you think that is?

  • Jack de Lowe

    I care!
    The focus of these ‘baptisms’ is Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. In many cases, there are no family survivors to state that these people were not Mormons. 100 years from now, the Mormons can rfe-write history to say any number of senarios that today seem crazy (i.e. the majority of those murdered by the Nazis in the Shoah were Mormons).
    The Mormons think they are right in their belief. I have no problem with that. What I don’t understand is why are they so insecure that they only feel confident in their belief when they can convert others to it?

    • jeremy rosen

      They can claim whatever they want. Fortunately nowadays with easy internet access to archives we can always know who was retroactively ‘converted’ by Mormons and laugh it off! In much the same way that Palestinian claims that there never was a Jewish Temple or presence in Jerusalem can also be as easily refuted as to make a monkey of anyone who claims so. J

  • Leah L

    Your comments about Chabad are pretty disgusting! “I guess it is not so different than Chabad missionaries believing that only their way of dress and custom is the right way for a Jew to behave. And that the mere act of putting on tefillin or waving a lulav will save their souls. ” Chabad absolutely does not believe their way of dressing or minhagim are the only correct way. Tznius as per the Torah, yes. Minhagim — any minhagim that conform to Torah law are fine! Putting on tefillin strengthens one’s connection to Hashem, and affects the Jewish nation. Same for lulav and esrog and all the rest of the mitzvos.

    I am shocked that you would print such shmutz in the Algemeiner Journal… unless this was meant to connect to Purim somehow. In my book, it falls flat! I doubt the Rebbe would be proud of this one!

    • jeremy rosen

      Lighten my dear.You take yourself too seriously too. J

      • salvage

        >my dear.

        You really have no idea how insufferably sexist and condescending this remark makes you look do you?

        Tell me, can a woman be a rabbi? If not why?

  • James Miller

    “You know, there are no people in the world who understand the Jews like
    the Mormons.” David Ben Gurion

    I can understand that the word BAPTISM is a red flag that enrages the average Jew be they dead or alive. They remember the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades and other historic pogroms and atrocities. The Mormon custom of Baptizing for the Dead sounds creepy but it’s really a Kaddish, a Yahrzeit or a Yizkor. It’s an intercessory prayer for a loved one of blessed memory. The intent is not to pervert, degrade or decontaminate the deceased. It is to preserve honor and glorify. Its not really a conversion.All Mormons are Mormons by Choice. You can’t be born into it. Coerced or infantile baptisms are invalid. You have to be at least 8 years old, request membership of your own free will, answer questions correctly which requires literacy, go to a special place of sanctification, be immersed into living water, put on distinct prayer garments and receive surrogate membership in one of the Joseph tribes usually Ephraim sometimes Manassas. Rarely a gentile named Goldberg with a Goyische mother becomes Mormon. (Congressman Chaffetz of Utah perhaps?) Tribe of Judah by paternal heritage. (Once a Jew always a Jew.)

    Accepting for the purposes of argument that Mormons are intent to baptize Dead Jews, you should know that the Mormons were once forbidden from baptising Living JEWS to LDS Christianity. Why:
    It’s redundant. The Mosaic Covenants heard at Sinai was never abrogated and remain in force to this day.
    It’s unnecessary. There is no Mormon Hell. All are provided with a place in the afterlife, baptized, mikvehised or not. Only a handful of lost souls are cast out into the outer darkness of nonexistence. (Haman, Hitler, Lucifer and Governor Boggs of Missouri have been nominated for this achievement)
    It’s counterproductive. Mormons have always been sincere Zionists and will not distract the Tribe of Judah from its mission and destiny of reclaiming Eretz Israel.
    The first edition of the first Mormon newspaper, Evening and Morning Star, was published in June 1832. In the first article, “To Man,” Church leaders announced that the newspaper “comes to bring good tidings of great joy to all people, but more especially to the House of Israel scattered abroad, for the Lord hath set His hand again the second time to restore them to the lands of their .” inheritance A “School of the Prophets” was founded in 1833 to provide secular and spiritual instruction to Church leaders and members. The Hebrew School was established as a course of study (10 hours/week). The instructor was Joshua Seixas, son of Rabbi Gershom Mendes Seixas, rabbi of Shearith Israel in New York. An 1834 article in the Church’s newspaper stated “We believe that God has set His hand to recover the remnant of His people, Israel, and that thetime is near when He will bring them from the four winds and reinstate them upon their own lands which He gave their fathers by covenant.”

    The Mormons dispatched Apostle Orson Hyde to dedicate the Land of Israel for the
    gathering of the Jews.On October 24, 1841, Orson Hyde offered that prayer on the Mount of Olives: “But thou knowest that thou hast a great love for the children of Jacob, who have been scattered upon the mountains for a long time, in a cloudy and dark day. We therefore ask thee to have mercy upon the children of Jacob, that Jerusalem from this hour, may begin to be redeemed; and the yoke of bondage may begin to be broken off from the house of David; and the children of Judah may begin to return to the lands which thou didst give to Abraham, their father.”
    The 10th Article of Mormon Faith affirms: “We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the lost tribes.”

    On June 27, 1844, Joseph Smith(founder of Mormonism and his brother Hyrum
    were killed by a mob in Carthage, Illinois. They were slain while reading Josephus. After the murders the presiding Mormon apostles issued a “proclamation to the World.” It said , in part, “The Jews among all nations are commanded to prepare to return to Jerusalem in Palestine, and to rebuild that city to the Lord. And also to organize and establish their own political government under their own rulers, judges and
    governors in that country.”Mormon pioneers arrived in the Utah territory in 1847.The first Jews arrived in 1849.
    The first Jewish worship service was held in 1864 in Salt lake City. Rosh Hashana was celebrated in 1865. Brigham Young donated personal land for a Jewish cemetery in 1866.The Jewish High Holy Days were celebrated in the Seventies Hall (used by Church leaders) in 1867.
    In 1851 Jacob Rich, a Jewish settler traveling with a Mormon caravan to California, brought the first Torah (which had a separate cart) to the San Bernardino valley; For decades it was the only Torah between Pasadena and Phoenix.
    In 1903, Church President Joseph F. Smith spoke at the ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone for the state’s first Orthodox synagogue, which was largely paid for by the Mormons.
    The first Jewish State governors in the USA were elected in Utah (1916) and Idaho (1941).
    Salt Lake City had a Jewish mayor by 1932, more than four decades before New York City and 78 years before Chicago
    Mormon Apostle George A. Smith rededicated the Land of Israel for the gathering of the Jews in 1873.
    The Land of Israel received at least 11( Mormon) apostolic blessings before the establishment of the state of Israel in1948.
    Two Mormon apostles (including future Church President David O. McKay) were in Jerusalem when the Allenby proclamation was made. David O. McKay prayed, on November 4, 1921, for the return of the Jews to their homeland.
    Mormon Senator King of Utah repeatedly sponsored legislation to allow increased immigration of Jews to the US after Kristallnacht.
    Israel Bonds were first issued in 1951. Mormon Church President David O. McKay purchased $5000 of them on behalf of the Church and made the following statement: “This is done to show our sympathy with the effort being made to establish the Jews in their homeland.”
    The Mormons donated $50,000 to Magen David Adom in Israel during the recent war in Lebanon.
    In 1977 the Mormon Church lifted all marriage restrictions based on race, creed or color. Converting Jews then became legal because it would sound rather bad to say everyone is welcome EXCEPT THE JEWS. If some Jews choose to become indignant and feel disrespected and insulted when a Mormon prays for them out of love and reverence that is their right.They have no right however to interfere with or proscribe those prayers any more than medieval Catholics had a right censor the Talmud because they, the Catholics that is, felt disrespected and infuriated by misinterpretations that they thought they saw between the lines of the Talmud that were not there.

  • salvage

    It is also no more ridiculous than any other type of theistic expression of superstition including Judaism’s whole circumscribing deal.

    It’s really cute when theists dismiss the crazy beliefs of other theists as crazy, not enough glass houses to go around!

    • jeremy rosen

      Yes, dear Salvage, there is a very big difference! The very idea that you can change the theological position of people who are dead is about the funniest theological position I have ever come across.J

      • salvage

        I agree it’s pretty hysterical but I can’t agree that it’s any more goofy than any other supernatural belief.

        You leave the temple door open so a ghost can have a drink of wine?

        You kiss a certain book if you drop it?

        You wear a skull cap because it pleases your god but make sure women don’t wear them because… that doesn’t please your god? Actually I’m baffled as to why your god seems to prefer the penis bearing mortals. You’d think it would have gotten over that whole talking snake magic fruit deal.

        • jeremy rosen

          Firstly I dont care a fig whatever weird stuff people want to believe in so long as they live in peace with other beings, live and let live.

          Secondly I think there is a huge difference between adhering to rituals however fanciful because all humans do even down to blowing noses into handkerchiefs or opening car doors for ladies, and attesting to ridiculous theological beliefs
          As a well known Russian once said “I dont mind being imprisoned so much, we all are one way or another, so long as I can curse my jailor.”
          its the freedom to think clearly and rationally that matters far more than agreeing to abide by rituals.
          J

          • salvage

            >Firstly I dont care a fig whatever weird stuff people want to believe in so long as they live in peace with other beings, live and let live.

            Sure. What does that have to do with anything I’ve said?

            >Secondly I think there is a huge difference between adhering to rituals however fanciful because all humans do even down to blowing noses into handkerchiefs or opening car doors for ladies, and attesting to ridiculous theological beliefs

            Not on an intrinsic level, saying “bless you” after someone’s involuntary reaction to an environmental stimuli is just as pointless as a Catholic eating a cracker they think turns into their god when digested.

            It’s all very silly, the difference being that we don’t take sneezing seriously as having a supernatural connection.

            The opening doors for “ladies” is a chauvinistic anachronism that doesn’t apply.

            >its the freedom to think clearly and rationally

            Absolutely, theism is the antithesis of that.

        • jeremy rosen

          “Because it pleases god”? Where ever did you get such a weird idea. As if God ‘cares’ what you eat or wear. Its function is anthropological with behavioral ramifications and hopefully but not necessarily spiritual. Dont set up straw men to knock down.I expect that of Dawkins not you.
          J

          • salvage

            >”Because it pleases god”? Where ever did you get such a weird idea.

            From years of attending synagogue as a child and reading prayers that praise your god and stories about how burnt offerings used to please it? I always thought it strange an omnipotent being needing emotional comforts. I wish when I was a kid I had the vocabulary and understanding to challenge the Rabbi on it.

            >As if God ‘cares’ what you eat or wear.

            How odd, I was brought up being taught that if I ate pork, shellfish, or drank milk with meat I was upsetting your god. It seems it went out of it’s way to tell its creation not to do that. It didn’t?

            This is one of the things that makes theism so truly unreal, it’s always something else than what it is.

            >Its function is anthropological with behavioral ramifications and hopefully but not necessarily spiritual.

            Yet always framed as such… say, you don’t think that the powers that have always been used religion’s supernatural authority to pass laws that have nothing to do with any god?

            >Dont set up straw men to knock down.I expect that of Dawkins not you.

            Yes, I made up the whole religion based, originated and maintained concept of dietary restrictions, dress code and newborn penis mutilation thing. None of that is found in any religion ever!

            Ah theism, the one reason why it’s so hard to nail down, any time its flaws, illogical or outright insanity is pointed out its defenders will leap out insisting like a teenage girl that “You just don’t get it!!!” and stomp off, slamming the bedroom door, putting on her iPod to 10 and refusing to explain any further.

            To debate theism no straw-men are required, just read the Torah, read about your god, where it came from (a pantheon don’t you know?) and what it’s done and the arguments for atheism as so self evident the only mystery is how otherwise intelligent people are fooled.

    • cynical

      It is also no more ridiculous than any type of atheistic expression, including circumcision bashing
      (and those who can’t even spell it right, unless circumscription is a new ritual I’m unfamiliar with).

      Speaking of cute, it’s even cuter when a-theists dismiss theists as “believers,” failing to acknowledge that atheism is a belief too (perhaps a crazier one than the rest). Indeed, BIG shortage of glass houses

      • salvage

        Ah, automatic spelling corrections, often more embarrassing than going with the typo but I’m glad my error gave you such a feeling of superiority, I guess you have to grab those as they come, happy to be of help.

        Atheism is not a belief akin to theism in any way for you too are 99.9% atheist or do you think Odin real? Zeus? Allah? Mohammad? Jesus? The Rainbow Serpent? If I were to list all the gods that came before and after yours I’m sure you’d agree with me that they’re nothing more than myths and fictional characters.

        It’s only when we get to YOUR god that suddenly all the reasons for dismissing those gods are no longer operable despite the fact that your god is exactly like all the others.

        Not believing in Zeus? Why commons sense, not believing in Yahweh? That takes faith!

        Really? Why is that? I know you won’t bother to answer, theists never do.

  • Mr. Rosen gets kudos for having a much more upbeat attitude than others.

    Point of information, the LDS practice was not new to Mormons in the 1830’s. Paul preached it to the ancient saints in Corinth. 1st Corinthians 15:25 states ” Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?”

    The question really shouldn’t be ‘Why are Mormons doing proxy baptisms?, but ‘Why are not other Christian religions performing this same ordinance?’

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