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The Issue of The Mormon Baptisms of Jewish Holocaust Victims and Other Jewish Dead

Compiled by Bernard I. Kouchel

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the original authors, publications, and/or individuals or organizations quoted, and are not necessarily endorsed by JewishGen, Inc.

The Mormon/Jewish Controversy: This web page chronicles the controversy between members of the Jewish faith and of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Mormons have been criticized in recent years for the practice of posthumously baptizing thousands of deceased Jews (among them Holocaust victims) and those of other faiths.  The wrongful posthumous baptism of Jewish dead continues, despite repeated denials by the disingenuous Mormon leadership.  In their missionary zeal, Mormons continue their wrongful baptism of Jews, attempting to convince people (dead or alive) from other religions to convert.  Jewish leaders have called the practice arrogant and said it is disrespectful to the dead, especially Holocaust victims.

Mormons are hijacking history.  In a hundred years, who will know the true facts about you and your heritage?  Who will know anything about your family?  No one.  Very possibly no one!  Because in a hundred years the record will apparently show that they were allegedly converts without making clear that it was by no act of their own.

Mormons Hijack Dead or Alive Jewish Souls

By Bernard I. Kouchel

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often referred to as the LDS or Mormons) has spent millions of dollars microfilming, indexing and cataloging nearly every document known to man from every country on earth — including millions of Jewish records.  Church members are encouraged to find the names of ancestors to baptize by proxy, which they believe gives the dead the opportunity to embrace the faith in the afterlife.  They say that those who are dead retain their identity and free will and therefore can either accept or reject the rites performed for them.  A hands-on proxy baptism ceremony, called an ordinance, takes place in a Mormon temple, and includes full immersion to wash away sins and commence church membership.  It is supposedly performed, commentators say, for people who had believed in Christ, but had not had a chance to be baptized.  To be baptized is to publicly acknowledge one's faith in Christ as Savior and Lord.  Originally, the practice was reserved for ancestors of church members, but over the years many other people have been baptized posthumously.

From the founding of their religion in 1830, Mormons have respected Judaism as a religion. Thus in 1994, Jews were outraged when it became known that members of LDS were posthumously baptizing Holocaust victims and other Jewish dead. Many followers of Judaism find the practice highly offensive, something akin to the forced baptism of Jews practiced for centuries in Europe during the Middle Ages. Some see the practice as an implicit bias, an act of intolerance.

The wrongful baptism of Jewish dead, which disparages the memory of a deceased person is a brazen act which will obscure the historical record for future generations. It has been bitterly opposed by many Jews for a number of years. Others say they will never stop being Jews, simply because there is a paper saying they had been baptized, that the act of posthumous baptism is unimportant and should be ignored. We think this to be a narrow, parochial, and shallow view. We will continue opposing this wrongful act which assimilates our dead to the point where it will not be possible to know who was Jewish in their lifetimes.

This author was among the first genealogists to discover the names of thousands of Jewish Holocaust victims in the International Genealogical Index (the "IGI") 1, the official Mormon index of proxy baptisms for the dead, and quickly exposed this misguided practice.

Names are placed in the IGI by individual Mormon researchers or through Church name extraction programs. The names were extracted 2 mainly from two Holocaust memorial books. Gedenkbuch was extracted by individuals; the Memorbuch was part of the Church's 'Extraction Program', an ongoing program that acquired records and distributed them to trained Church member volunteers who then extracted the names and submitted them for posthumous baptism.3

A protest drive initiated by Jewish genealogists escalated it to a nationally publicized issue that was followed by public outcry. American Jewish leaders considered it an insult and a major setback for interfaith relations. They initiated discussions with the Mormon Church that culminated in a voluntary 1995 agreement by the Church to remove the inappropriate names. Activists continue to monitor Mormon baptismal lists, seeking removal of inappropriate entries.

Has the church done anything to uphold its decade-old agreement with the Jewish community? The bad news is that the Mormons continue to hijack Jewish genocide victims and other Jewish dead. Moreover, when a Jew is baptized, the door is open for all of his deceased ancestors to be baptized as well. Regrettably, their baptismal records place before the public a revisionist view that these deceased Jews were Mormons, a position they would have rejected in life.

A commentator on this topic said that anti-Semites who desecrate Jewish cemeteries want to destroy even the memory of Jews by breaking their tombstones and other symbols whereby we honor and remember them. He concluded that baptism of the Jewish dead is just a more sophisticated form of breaking tombstones.

A blogger wrote: "I don't buy the argument that it's done for selfless reasons. It's not selflessness, it's arrogance. And especially in light of the Mormon Church's agreement in 1995 to stop baptizing Holocaust victims, it's even more reprehensible for them to continue the practice. If a church can't be trusted to keep its word in a matter such as this, then where is its moral standing?"

We want to say this to all well-meaning Christians: We don't want to be saved, redeemed, forgiven, reincarnated, resurrected, or enraptured. We just want to be left alone. After 2000 years -- is it so much to ask? We find the idea of Jews being posthumously baptized into the Mormon church to be deeply offensive in the extreme and cannot express our disgust, outrage and revulsion at this practice in strong enough terms. If everyone has free will, or "free agency" as Mormons say it, why bother with baptizing the dead who chose not to accept Christ? It takes the spiritual hounding of Jews to new lows; not even the grave is a refuge from over-zealous missionaries!

How can Jews be committed to enumerating descendants when the Mormons distort our family ties and our historic links to Judaism? You may wish to include these disclaimers in your genealogy records --
I note for posterity that if future researchers find records of baptized relatives in Mormon databases, know that these wrongful baptisms were inflicted on those relatives posthumously - - those entries do not reflect changes in religious choice or practice of our deceased ancestors.
If having been subjected to the involuntary Rite of Baptism, I hereby publicly revoke any implications of that Rite and renounce the Church that carried it out.



Postscript.

Promises Unfulfilled:
In a 1995 agreement, the Church agreed to limit their posthumous baptism practice of Jews — of all Jews, not just Holocaust victims — to only direct ancestors of Mormons. Instead of implementing promises made, the Church has engaged in a course of unfulfilled promises, a record of decisions adopted and then abandoned, and an apparent wish to undo what they have agreed to.

See 'Mormons, Jews Sign Agreement On Baptizing Holocaust Victims' (7pp) Click here.

The wrongful posthumous baptism of Jewish dead continues, despite denials by the Mormon leadership. Independent researcher Helen Radkey prepared three reports describing her discoveries which demonstrate that thousands of Holocaust victims have been posthumously baptized since 1995.

1. Report of Sep. 27, 2008, (2pp) Click here
2. Report of Oct. 8, 2008, (1p) Click here
3. Comprehensive report of Oct. 31, 2008, (61pp) Click here

We urge the Church to:

  • Comply with the 1995 agreement.
  • Cease the ongoing wrongful baptisms of the Jewish dead.
  • Constitute a task force to search and expunge from all baptismal records, all wrongful baptisms of the Jewish dead.

If you feel a special connection to those who have gone before you and an increased responsibility to those who will follow, you will insist on removal of their names from the baptismal lists. To search the IGI and/or for name removal instructions, click here

Continue below to read a compilation of press releases, news articles and related information.



NEW - NEW - NEW
7 May 2009
The Salt Lake Tribune
by Thomas Burr (excerpt)

[Obama's Momma Baptized]

"With the revelation that Obama's late mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was baptized by proxy last year in the faith's Provo temple, a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said it is "counter to church policy for a church member to submit names for baptism for persons to whom they are not related." [Church officials] called it "a serious matter" that was being looked into by church officials."

[ED:] The LDS Church issued this statement: "The offering of baptism to our deceased ancestors is a sacred practice to us and it is counter to Church policy for a Church member to submit names for baptism for persons to whom they are not related. The Church is looking into the circumstances of how this happened and does not yet have all the facts. However, this is a serious matter and we are treating it as such."

[ED:] PROMISES UNFILLED: THE LDS CHURCH HAS BEEN LOOKING INTO THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF WRONGFUL POSTHUMOUS BAPTISMS OF JEWS FOR NEARLY FIFTEEN (15) YEARS. THEY OFFER ONLY OBFUSCATION AND LIES INTENDED TO CONCEAL THE TRUTH. YOUR MOMMA MAY BE NEXT.



A chronicle of the Mormon/Jewish controversy



Beginning February 1994 JewishGen Discussion Group Archives. Search archives
E-mail discussions of the issue of posthumous baptisms of Jewish Holocaust victims.

March 1994
Bernard Kouchel writes to Stephen Kendall, Director, Family History Library decrying the baptism of Holocaust victims.
See response below, dated September 1994.


Spring 1994
Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy.
Mormons Baptize Holocaust Victims Letters exchanged by Gary Mokotoff and Church Elder J. Richard Clark.

[Gary Mokotoff] "Baptism is a Christian ceremony that is particularly repugnant to Jews. It reminds us of the centuries of persecution against Jews where our ancestors were given a choice; be baptized or suffer death."

[Elder J. Richard Clarke] "In light of the concerns raised in your letter, we have reviewed our procedures regarding temple ordinances for the dead and have adopted the following refinements: first, that temple ordinances be performed only at the request of family members; and second, that family members wishing to perform such ordinances also have permission from the nearest living relative before proceeding."


July 8, 1994
Jewish Forward, New York City.
Front page article by free lance writer Bill Gladstone, former president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada. The article was also published in The Canadian Jewish News, the leading Jewish newspaper in Canada.
[The issue of posthumous baptisms of Jewish Holocaust victims now becomes a nationally publicized issue.]


September 1994
The reply to Bernard Kouchel in response to his March letter to the Church decrying the baptism of Holocaust victims.

"The church is keenly aware of those not of our faith who are concerned over the practice of temple ordinances for the dead. The First Presidency of the Church has asked members, as far as possible, to honor and protect individual privacy. In 1972 they wrote: "Persons submitting names for other than direct ancestors [should] have obtained direct approval from the closest living relative of the deceased before submitting records pertaining to persons born in the past ninety-five years." Reminders of this policy appear each time Church computer programs and our other resources are used."
/s/ A. Gregory Brown
Manager, Communications
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints



The LDS Agreement

April 28, 1995
News Release -- Salt Lake City, Utah and New York, New York
Joint News Release by The Church of The Latter-day Saints and The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors

The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints and the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors have reached an agreement over the issue of the posthumous baptisms of Jewish Holocaust victims by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The final agreement will be signed at the New York Office of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Wednesday, May 3, 1995, at which time a press conference will be held by the leaders of both groups.

"The issue came to the attention of the Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors as a result of an article in a Jewish newspaper which stated, correctly that a Jewish Holocaust victim who was killed in Gurs (France) concentration camp was posthumously baptized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," said Ernest Michel, Chairman of the World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and an authorized representative of the American Gathering. [ED: Jewish genealogical community activists had much earlier discovered the baptisms, and brought it to Michel's attention.]

As a result of this article, Mr. Michel in behalf of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, initiated discussions with the Church which extended over a period of several months.

"From the very beginning these discussions were conducted in a positive and friendly manner," Michel said. "They concluded in today's agreement between the Church and the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors," he added.

In a statement issue today, the Church agreed, among other actions to be taken, to remove from the next issue of its International Genealogical Index the names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims who are not ancestors of living members of the Church. The American Gathering agreed to communicate with and inform major Jewish organizations as to its agreement with the Church. Four other major Jewish organizations have also approved this agreement.

"For more than a century the First Presidency of the Church has taught that members of the Church have a solemn responsibility to identify their deceased forebears and to provide temple ordinances for them regardless of ethnic background or origin," said Elder Monte J. Brough of the Church's Presidency of the Seventy and executive director of its Family History Department.

"However, in violation of Church policy, lists of Jewish Holocaust victims and other non-related groups and individuals have been submitted for temple ordinances. The First Presidency directed in March 1991 that temple ordinances for Jewish Holocaust victims be discontinued," Elder Brough said.

"Unfortunately, subsequent submissions of lists of Jewish Holocaust victims were made by certain individuals and posthumous baptisms in contravention of Church policy occurred," he added.

As a consequence of these discussions and the First Presidency's directive, the Church has agreed to:

  • Remove from the next issue of the International Genealogical Index the names of all known posthumous baptized Jewish Holocaust victims who are not direct ancestors of living members of the Church.

  • Provide a list of all Jewish Holocaust victims whose names are to be removed from the International Genealogical Index to the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Commission, the N.Y. Holocaust Memorial Commission, the Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Israel, and confirm in writing when removal of such names has been completed.

  • Reaffirm the policy and issue a directive to all officials and members of the Church to discontinue any future baptisms of deceased Jews, including all lists of Jewish Holocaust victims who are known Jews, except if they were direct ancestors of living members of the Church or the Church had the written approval of all living members of the deceased's immediate family.

  • Confirm this policy in all relevant literature produced by the Church.

  • Remove from the International Genealogical Index in the future the names of all deceased Jews who are so identified if they are known to be improperly included counter to Church policy.

  • Release to the American Gathering The First Presidency's 1995 directive.

The First Presidency reaffirmed that the Church, in accordance with past policy, will continue to make its family history records available to the public regardless of religious or ethnic affiliation.



May 5, 1995
Associated Press Newswire
By Richard Pyle

Mormons, Jews Sign Agreement On Baptizing Holocaust Victims

NEW YORK (AP) Mormons who baptized 380,000 Holocaust victims posthumously were motivated by love and compassion and did not understand their gesture might offend Jews, a church official said.

Mormon record-gatherers who performed the baptisms "were deeply moved by the tragedy of that terrible, terrible event," said Monte J. Brough, a member of the Mormon Church's Presidency of the Seventy. But he said they did not realize that what they intended as a "Christian act of service" was "misguided and insensitive."

Brough spoke Wednesday as Jewish and Mormon leaders signed an agreement to remove the Holocaust victims' names from the church lists of people who have been baptized as Mormons after death. The brief signing ceremony was intended to end a controversy that arose after some Jewish survivors learned last year, to their shock, that relatives had been baptized into the Christian faith after they perished in Nazi death camps.

"On the 50th anniversary of our liberation and our escape ... what could potentially have been a bigger problem was solved in a most positive and most agreeable manner," said Ernest Michel, chairman of the World Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, one of five Jewish groups involved.

Michel became a leader on the issue after discovering last year that his parents, who died at Auschwitz, and other relatives, were among those who had been posthumously baptized as Christian.

"I must tell you that I was incensed I had no other reaction," Michel told a small group of rabbis and other Jewish leaders at the ceremony.

Brough said the posthumous baptisms were a mistake that violated church policy. Baptism is a basic Mormon tenet, but only ancestors of church members are normally entitled to posthumous baptism, he said.

The six-page agreement, approved by Jewish organization leaders about two weeks ago, calls for all of the Jewish Holocaust victims' names to be removed from the church's vast International Genealogical Index.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints maintains the world's largest genealogical library, with some 2 billion names of people of many faiths and nationalities. The purpose, Brough said, is to "unite extended family members in an eternal bond." Brough is executive director of its Family History Department.

Of the 2 billion names, about 200 million have been baptized by living proxies who are members of the church. Most were from North America, Western Europe and Asia, he said. Most of the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust were from Germany and Eastern Europe.

Brough said the 380,000 Jews had been given the "temple ordinance" of baptism by nine well-meaning but overzealous Mormon record-gatherers.

The nine, whom he did not name, were motivated by "love and compassion" after visiting Holocaust museums and memorials, Brough said.

"The nine are apologetic, and appalled that they did not understand the sensitivities that were involved here," the church official said.

It will take several months for computers to find and eliminate all the baptized names, Brough said. Once removed, they will not appear in any Mormon genealogical index records.

The Mormon church discovered in 1990 that names entered from German, Dutch, French and Israeli rosters of Holocaust victims had been baptized by mistake and ordered that such baptisms cease, except for people who had living descendants in the church.

Brough said that if it should be discovered that other groups of people had been baptized posthumously into the Mormon faith, their names also would be removed.



Summer 1995
Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy
By Gary Mokotoff

The Mormon Jewish Controversy: What Really Happened

Read more.
[Events that led up to the signing of the agreement heavily involved the Jewish genealogical community.]



June 1996
News clipping, unknown source

Holocaust Victims Names Deleted From IGI

As part of the landmark May 3, 1995 agreement between the Mormon Church and the Jewish community, the LDS Family History Department has completed the removal of the names of Jewish holocaust victims from their International Genealogical Index (IGI) database. New copies of the IGI delivered to the 2800 LDS family history centers in June 1996 reflect the deletions.

The deleted names were saved on compact disks [CD-ROMs] and have been sent to the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, Yad Vashem, Simon Wiesenthal Center and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.



July 14, 1997
CD-ROM

Victims Of The Holocaust

Copies of the CD-ROM Victims Of The Holocaust (1997) produced by The LDS, were distributed by the Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies to member JGS societies. The following is the full text of the included "readme.txt" file.

"HOLOCAUST VICTIMS DATABASE: The enclosed databases contain the records of individuals believed to be victims of the Holocaust, 1939-1945. These records have been removed from the 1993 Main File and the 1994 Addendum to the International Genealogical Index (R). The database contains 225,083 birth records (with minor duplication of records) and 22,396 marriage records (with extensive duplication)."

Ed. note: An independent analysis confirmed that the birth file contained 225,083 records of which 19,251 (8.5%) were duplicates ( = 205,832 ). The marriage file contained 22,396 records of which 12,437 (55%) were duplicates ( = 9,959 ). Sum total of records removed from the IGI = 215,791. A duplicate is defined as identical given name, surname and birth date.



May 3, 2001
New York Times (www.nytimes.com)

More Names Found

After a request by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has promised to remove the names of more than 200 Jews, including Albert Einstein and Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, from the church's genealogical records. Church officials said that after a 1995 agreement with Jewish organizations, the names of several hundred thousand Holocaust victims had been removed from its genealogical database. But others remained. "It's insulting," said Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Wiesenthal Center.



May 2001
Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles
Commentary by Aaron Breitbart, senior researcher

"These people were born Jews, they lived as Jews and many of them died because they were Jews. They would not have chosen to be baptized Mormons in life, and there is no reason they would want to be baptized by proxy in death."



July 27, 2001
Forward (www.forward.com)
By Ami Eden

Sister Golda, Brother Bashevis: Mormon Baptizers At It Again

Despite a historic agreement with the Jewish community, members of the Mormon Church have posthumously baptized several late prime ministers of Israel and at least 200 other Jewish luminaries.



December 11, 2002
Jewish Telegraph Agency (www.jta.org)
By Bill Gladstone

Mormons still baptizing dead Jews

"Jewish and Mormon officials met to discuss new allegations that church members are still posthumously baptizing many deceased Jews, including thousands of Holocaust victims. Seven years after the church signed a legal agreement to do all it could to stop the practice, new evidence emerged that the church´s vast International Genealogical Index lists as many as 20,000 Jewish Holocaust victims, and perhaps many more, all evidently baptized by proxy after their deaths."

"There may be hundreds of thousands of Jewish names in there," said Bernard Kouchel. [...] Having conducted his own search of the International Genealogical Index in recent weeks, Kouchel found scores of notable Jews, including Rashi, Maimonides, Menachem Begin, Irving Berlin, Samuel Bronfman, Marc Chagall, Hank Greenberg, Irving Howe and Gilda Radner.
Read more (follow-up article).



December 11, 2002
CNN.com

Mormons meet with Jews over baptizing Holocaust victims

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) -- Mormon and Jewish leaders met Tuesday in New York City to discuss the Mormon church's apparent breach of its agreement not to posthumously baptize Holocaust victims and other deceased Jews.

Independent researcher Helen Radkey has no doubt that holocaust victims have been posthumously baptized. [She] is certain the agreement has been broken. In her research of the church's extensive genealogical database, she found at least 20,000 Jews -- some of whom died in Nazi concentration camps -- were baptized after they died. Read more



December 12, 2002
By Peg McEntee
The Salt Lake Tribune

LDS Church Reaffirms No Proxy Baptisms of Jews

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirmed Wednesday it will not permit posthumous baptisms of any people known to be Jewish, including Holocaust victims, albeit with a minute number of exceptions.

The church's statement came a day after a meeting in New York with Ernest Michel, chairman of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Victims and himself a Holocaust survivor, to revisit a 1995 agreement discouraging Mormons from submitting the names of deceased Jews to the faith's enormous genealogical database.

According to the 1995 agreement, no deceased Jews, particularly those who perished in the Holocaust, would be the subjects of baptism by proxy, a Mormon temple ordinance intended to offer those in the spirit world the opportunity to embrace the LDS faith.

The exceptions are for Mormons whose direct ancestors were Jewish, or when the immediate family of a deceased Jew agrees to the baptism. Read more



April 22, 2003
Press Release, Armenian News Network (excerpts)

Armenian Church Condemns Actions of Mormons

The recent report of the Mormon sect's `baptizing' notable Armenians is ludicrous, laughable and truly scandalous behavior. They have no right nor authority to 'baptize' any deceased Armenian Christian. It is an offensive affront to the people of the Armenian Nation dispersed throughout the world, who have repeatedly suffered martyrdom in the defense of Christianity. Regardless of who the individual is, whether saint or sinner, no one has the right to baptize someone who is deceased. Only Our Lord in Heaven has power over the lives of the deceased.

The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, on behalf of the worldwide Armenian Church, condemns this practice in the strongest possible terms. In a statement from the Department of Inter-Church Relations of the Armenian Church, it is noted: `We call on the Mormon authorities to immediately cease this damaging and outrageous behavior. These actions are a violation against common decency.



May 11, 2003
Nu? What's New?
[Online] News About Jewish Genealogy from Avotaynu
Gary Mokotoff, Editor

The Problem That Won't Go Away
First American Jewish Families Used for Posthumous Baptisms

It has been discovered that yet another major Jewish work has been used by the Mormon Church for posthumous baptisms. Most deceased persons identified in Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern's book, First American Jewish Families--some 30,000 persons--have been discovered in the International Genealogical Index (IGI). The IGI is a database of some 250 million people for whom some Mormon ordinance, usually posthumous baptism, has been performed. First American Jewish Families identifies more than 35,000 people who are descendants of the earliest Jewish immigrants to the United States. Rabbi Stern is considered by many to [be] the father of contemporary Jewish genealogy.

Recently, Chaim Freedman of Israel, who was born in Australia, discovered that many of the most distinguished Australian rabbis and Jewish leaders of the past were listed in the IGI, indicating that posthumous baptisms were performed on them. He also discovered that birth records from London's Hambro synagogue were used for the Mormon ritual.

The evidence is that these ordinances were performed prior to the 1995 agreement between the Mormon Church and major Jewish organizations at which time the Church agreed to discontinue baptism of deceased Jews. Information regarding this agreement can be found at... [this InfoFile]. The events that lead up to the agreement can be found here.

I recently read a biography of Alma Rosé, the Jewish woman who was conductor of the women's orchestra at Auschwitz. (She died in the camp.) Last night, I searched the IGI and found her name--twice. So is her mother Justine Mahler Rosenblum, the sister of the noted Austrian-Jewish composer, Gustav Mahler, who is also in the IGI. Either Alma Rosé was posthumously baptized after 1995 or her baptism was in violation of the 95-year rule the Church has established which states you cannot posthumously baptize a person who was born within the past 95 years without permission of living members of the immediate family.



November 23, 2003
By Nick Paton Walsh in Moscow
The [UK] Observer. [Excerpts]

Russians fume as Mormons 'buy souls'

The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed its outrage at what it claims is a Mormon scheme to buy up the names of dead Russians in order to baptise 'dead souls' in their faith.

Professor Alexei Dvorkin, head of the Sectology Department of the Moscow St Tikhon Institute, said: 'The Mormon practice of proxy baptism or 'baptising the dead' is a well known ritual described in a lot of books. At the beginning of this practice they were looking for their ancestors with the aim of baptising them, but later they began to baptise everyone - Catholics, Muslims, Jewish, or Orthodox. Read more.



Dec. 12, 2003
By Mark Thiessen, azcentral.com
Associated Press [Excerpts]

Mormons still being accused of baptizing dead Jews

SALT LAKE CITY - Less than a year after the Mormon church promised, again, to stop baptizing dead Jews into its faith, the Mormons have raised concerns by buying - at 10 cents a sheet - thousands of names of dead Russian Orthodox Church members

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has long collected names from government documents and other records worldwide. The names are then used in temple rituals, during which Mormon stand-ins are dunked in water to offer the dead salvation and entry to the Mormon religion.

Salt Lake City independent researcher Helen Radkey said she has found such notable non-Mormons as Adolph Hitler, Anne Frank, and even Roman Catholic popes and saints within the church's database - called the International Genealogical Index - of 600 million names.

In 1995 the Mormon church agreed with Jewish leaders to end its practice of posthumously baptizing Jews. However, after several Jewish organizations complained that the practice hadn't stopped and Radkey produced the names of at least 20,000 Jews in the index, the church last December rededicated itself to ending the practice and removing the names.

Radkey, however, said many names still have not been removed, despite what she called a "cosmetic" clean-up two months ago of Jews who died in concentration camps. In fact, within the last few months she has found the names of prominent Jews still in the database, albeit under their original names or those with alternate spellings.

They include David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, and Theodor Herzl, Hungarian journalist and the founder of Zionism.

Radkey said the inclusion of Ben-Gurion, listed by his birth name of David Green and baptized since 2000, indicates the Mormons are not sincere about abiding by the agreement with Jewish leaders.

"If he would be done since the 1995 agreement, then they'll do any Jew," she said. Read more.



December 19, 2003
By Stewart Ain - Staff Writer
Jewish Week Wireless, thejewishweek.com [excerpts]

Mormons Still Baptizing Dead Jews
Church has not removed Jews’ names from database

Despite a 1995 promise to stop baptizing deceased Jews, the Mormon church has not removed the names of thousands of Jews within its database who were earlier baptized, and a church official admitted that more Jews may continue to be baptized posthumously.

Ernest Michel, a former executive vice president of UJA-Federation of New York who helped broker the 1995 agreement, said his attempt to convince the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to remove Jewish names from its database of 400 million names has been rebuffed by the church.

He said that among the Jews the Mormons posthumously baptized were David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, and Theodor Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement. Anne Frank, Moshe Dayan and Albert Einstein have also been baptized, critics claim. Read more.



December 21, 2003
By Ian Urbina
New York Times - nytimes.com [Excerpts]

Again, Jews Fault Mormons Over Posthumous Baptisms

A Jewish group says it is considering legal action in an effort to stop the Mormon Church from posthumously baptizing many Jews, especially Holocaust victims.

"For the last seven years, we've had entirely cordial relations with the Mormons," said Ernest Michel, who negotiated the agreement on behalf of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, which is based in New York and claims 180,000 members. "But the agreement is clear and they have not held up their end."

But Mr. Michel, who said he became involved in the issue after reading about posthumous baptisms in the Jewish newspaper The Forward, contends that the agreement obliges the Mormon Church to monitor the post-1995 lists and remove the names of Jews that appear.

"They put the names in there, they should have to take them out, and the agreement says as much," he said. "Why should we have to do their job for them?" He said the group was considering legal action but would not provide details.

Originally, the practice was reserved for ancestors of church members, but over the years many other people have been baptized posthumously.  "There is no way to prevent overzealous members doing mission work from submitting names that don't belong," Mr. Christofferson [a church official involved with the negotiations] said.  Read more.



December 24, 2003
By Joe Berkofsky
New York, (JTA) www.jta.org [Excerpts]

Baptism controversy flares anew between Jews and Mormon church

For years, Jewish officials have blasted the conversions as an insulting desecration, but the controversy is flaring anew this week amid charges that the Mormons have broken a 1995 promise not to add Jewish Holocaust victims to their International Genealogical Index.

[...] all the critics agree that, as Jewish genealogist Gary Mokotoff puts it, the Mormons should take Jews off the list. “Baptism is the second ugliest word in the English language to a Jew,” Mokotoff said. “The first is gassed. The third is raped.”

Ernest Michel, a former executive vice president of the UJA-Federation of New York and chairman of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, hinted this week at legal action. [...] “We have agreed to consider all possible options, including legal options, but we would much prefer to come to an agreement with the church in what I believe is, to all of us Jews, a very crucial and emotional issue,” Michel said.

D. Todd Christofferson, a church official involved in the talks, said the church removed Holocaust victims listed before 1995 and has since followed the pact by instructing members not to add more.

Malcolm Hoenlein, one of the signatories of the 1995 pact, said that all the parties to the agreement understood what was supposed to be done, and that it is not the Jews’ responsibility to bring new names to the Mormons’ attention. [...] The Mormons “have an obligation to live up to their commitment,” he said, adding that he hopes they will do so without legal action.

Rabbi James Rudin, who helped broker the 1995 deal as director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, said the real issue is that Jews remain on the list at all. [...] "Whatever Mormons want to teach their fellow Mormons to do is their right,” he said. "But when it crosses over to people who are not Mormons — and who are deceased and never intended to be Mormons — we have to be a voice for the voiceless.” Read more.



January 11, 2004
Deseret Morning News
By Gary Mokotoff [Excerpts]

Posthumous baptism is a terrible insult to Jews

What could be more inappropriate than baptizing a Holocaust victim; a person who died for only one reason — he was a Jew. Yet Mordechai Anielowicz, the leader of the Warsaw ghetto rebellion, was posthumously baptized into the Mormon faith. He is not an isolated incident. Hundreds of thousands of Holocaust victims — men, women, children and babies — have been baptized. Is it the thought that Holocaust victims can be comforted in their afterlife by accepting the Mormon religion?

Some of my Mormon friends have told me the ritual is an act of love. While this may be true, something that is intended as an act of love that causes the receiver pain becomes an act of cruelty.

The bottom line is that no person has a right to involve someone else's family in their religion. As I have told many of my Mormon friends, to many Jews — including myself — "baptize" is the second ugliest word in the English language. The ugliest word is "gassed." The third ugliest word is "raped."

To many Jews, "baptized" has a greater emotional reaction because to them — and me — to posthumously baptize a Jew is to rape his soul.  Read more,



April 10, 2004
Mark Thiessen [Excerpts]
The Associated Press

Sen. Clinton joins effort to end Mormon baptism of Holocaust victims

SALT LAKE CITY -- Despite a directive from Mormon leaders to stop the practice, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have continued posthumously baptizing Jewish Holocaust victims into the Mormon faith, adding more concentration camp victims to its roster of those offered conversion in the afterlife.

A New York Jewish organization was so outraged that it asked U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton to intervene, prompting a meeting in early March between the former first lady and Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, an LDS church member, The Associated Press has learned.

However, Ernest Michel, chairman of the New York-based World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, said he asked Clinton to intervene to force the LDS Church to abide by a 1995 agreement to stop the posthumous baptisms.

The church has reaffirmed formally and informally the 1995 agreement in recent years only to have watchdogs find new Holocaust victims added to church's database of 400 million names -- each of which has had, or will eventually receive, a proxy baptism.

Under the 1995 agreement, the church directed its members not to include the names of unrelated persons, celebrities and unapproved groups, such as Jewish Holocaust victims, for its "baptisms for the dead," according to documents provided by the LDS Church.

The church also assumes that the closest living relative of the deceased being offered for proxy baptism has consented.

After the 1995 agreement, researchers, including Helen Radkey of Salt Lake City, later discovered that the baptisms hadn't stopped. Radkey has studied the issue since 1999.

LDS Church leaders reaffirmed the agreement in December 2002 after Radkey found at least 20,000 Jews in the church's International Genealogical Index, including Anne Frank.

Radkey said Friday the process still hasn't stopped. She said in a search of what she described as a "small sampling," she recently discovered posthumous baptism records for at least 268 Dutch Jews killed in Polish concentration camps. All the death camp victims were posthumously baptized well after the 1995 agreement. Read more



Spring 2004
Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy
Volume XX, No. 1
by Sallyann Amdur Sack, Editor

As I See It

A major cluster of stories in this issue [pp37-40] ... concerns the Mormon practice of baptizing deceased Jews. In 1995 the LDS Church and representatives of the Jewish people signed an agreement that many thought would end the practice. Apparently it has not. Wayne Metcalf, a representative of the LDS church explains why the Mormons do posthumous baptisms; Gary Mokotoff details some history and the nature of the agreement, and Bernard Kouchel presents evidence that terms of the agreement are not being observed.



July 05, 2004
Jerusalem Post

Overzealous Mormons continue to baptize Jews

Abigail Radoszkowicz describes posthumous baptisms that are being performed, even for those without Mormon descendants. She writes that thousands of Jewish victims of the Holocaust have recently been baptized into the Mormon faith, including Anne Frank (who died young and had no descendants), as well as Golda Meir. She also noted that many non-Jews have been baptized, including the Shah of Iran and the Ayatollah Khomeini. Read more.



April 11, 2005

Jews, Mormons to Examine Proxy Baptisms

Jews, Mormons Agree to Study Database of Those Who Received Posthumous Proxy Baptisms
By MARK THIESSEN Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY Apr 11, 2005 — Jews and Mormons decided Monday to jointly scrutinize a Mormon database that includes the names of thousands of deceased Jews including Holocaust victims who were given unwanted, posthumous baptisms.

A committee with members of both religions will study how names get into the massive International Genealogical Index which has an estimated 4 million entries what processes are followed, and how greater order can be brought to the unwieldy listing.

The move lets Mormons "see what we can do that doesn't compromise our core beliefs and practices" while still addressing the concerns of Jewish leaders, said D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, a high-ranking church leadership body. "We're going to do a lot of fact finding, and we will go from there."

"The church did not compromise its principles. The Jewish community didn't compromise its concerns," said David Elcott, director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee in New York, one of five leaders who met with Mormon officials Sunday and Monday.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes individuals' ability to choose a religion continues beyond the grave. Through its unique practice of proxy or vicarious baptisms, names are forwarded for baptism, and church members stand in for deceased non-Mormons. The church believes the ritual is required for the dead to reach heaven.

Researchers found the names of Holocaust victims in the church's massive index more than a decade ago. After Jewish leaders protested, the two sides signed an agreement in 1995, and about 380,000 names of Holocaust victims were removed.

The agreement also called for no further proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims, celebrities or people who are not relatives of those seeking the baptism.

But Jewish leaders claim Mormons continue to posthumously baptize Jews and Holocaust victims. They said the meetings Sunday and Monday followed a decade of frustration over what they called broken promises.



April 12, 2005
National Public Radio
Morning Edition
by Howard Berkes

Mormons Aim to Stop 'Baptism' of Holocaust Victims

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints makes another [failed] attempt to address concerns of Jewish groups who complain that Holocaust victims are showing up on Mormon baptism rolls. Mormons believe that after death, baptisms save souls. Ten years ago, Mormon leaders agreed to try to stop this practice. Now, they vow to try again.



November 17, 2005
Salt Lake City Weekly--Letters--

Baptism’s Several Dimensions

In a recent letter, [“Paper Claims,” Nov. 10, City Weekly] and in defense of posthumous baptism, a response from Ron Fielding in Ogden blithely says, “Why should anyone care who claims Grandma and Grandpa’s soul.” The response can only be characterized as a trivial reaction to a problem perceived by some as both significant and immoral. It is presumed that the writer must believe that some religious purpose is served by the act of posthumous baptism. Surely, it cannot be thought of as having no purpose, for then why are Mormons so intent on doing it? The problem lies in the fact that to many of those who do not believe or accept the religious purpose, the act of posthumous baptism of “Grandma and Grandpa” is seen in several dimensions, all rejective of the act.
First, to those who oppose it, it is perceived as a forced, unrequested and distasteful religious ceremony performed on souls whose religious beliefs were antithetical to acts of this nature. Second, it is an insult to the living descendants of those people to have an unrequested religious ceremony applied to their ancestors. The act is thought of as both hateful and horrific. Third, those who object to this misdeed do not accept anyone’s authority to perform these acts. That asserted right is entirely one of self-authorization. Furthermore, that self-asserted authorization is rejected in all its forms, but particularly when the First Amendment is offered as the source of that right. [Dan Leeson, Los Altos, Calif.]



Fall 2005
Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy
by Sallyann Amdur Sack, Editor

Mormon/Jewish Controversy: An Update

In 1995, amid considerable publicity and expressions of good will, the LDS (Mormon) Church signed an agreement with several Jewish organizations in which the Church agreed to cease its practice of baptizing deceased Jews who were not direct ancestors of members of their faith and listing them in the International Genealogical Index (IGI). In addition, the Church prepared a CD with the names of hundreds of thousands of Jews who had been posthumously baptized, but whose names were now removed from the IGI. The CD was donated to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and other institutions.

At the same time, the Church announced that any Jews who found that a deceased relative had been posthumously baptized should write to request the removal of the name if the deceased Jew was not a direct ancestor of a Mormon. Initially, it appeared as if a contentious issue had been peacefully resolved. Many Jewish genealogists reported polite, prompt action when they requested the removal of a name, and cordial relations prevailed between the Jewish genealogical world and the Mormon genealogical establishment.

As most readers know, genealogical research is a religious requirement for the Mormons who use the information gathered to perform religious ceremonies (called “ordinances”) of “sealing,” “baptism” and “endowment.” Recognizing the religious requirements, the agreement permitted an exception to the ban on posthumous baptism of Jews. In the case where a direct ancestor of a Mormon was Jewish, that ancestor may be baptized.

Increasingly, however, rumbles began to be heard in the Jewish community to the effect that names removed from the IGI in 1995 were once more appearing on this list. As examples multiplied, Helen Radkey, a former Mormon living in Salt Lake City, began to research the IGI and to investigate the charges that the Mormons were failing to observe the agreement, sending her findings to Ernest Michel of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. Michel was the person who negotiated the 1995 agreement with the Church.

In March 2005, Michel and three other representatives of Jewish organizations—Dr. David Elcott of the American Jewish Committee, AVOTAYNU publisher Gary Mokotoff and Herbert Kronish, a lawyer friend of Michel—traveled to Salt Lake City to present Radkey's evidence—three large crates with a total of 5,000 names—to 10 officials of the LDS (Mormon) Church. The Church asked for time to analyze the items, and both sides agreed to establish a six-person ad hoc committee (three Jews and three Mormons) to study the results of the analysis and to make recommendations to the principals. Mokotoff was selected to create the Jewish contingent. He tapped AVOTAYNU editor Sallyann Amdur Sack and JewishGen vice-president Carol Skydell as the other two Jewish members. In May 2005, the ad hoc committee met in Salt Lake City. The Mormon members were David E. Rencher, Director of the Records and Information; Wayne J. Metcalfe, Director of Acquisitions; Paul Starkey, Manager of Official Temple Records. Starkey is directly responsible for the IGI. Church Extraction Program

The Mormons clarified their use of names extracted from genealogical records. The vast majority of deceased persons for whom ordinances such as baptism are performed are not related to Mormons. The ordinances are performed as the result of the Church's Extraction Program in which the names of persons from collections they have acquired are submitted for ordinances. An example of this is a current project to extract and “seal” all persons married in Manhattan (New York) since marriage records were created in this locale. Jews who had ancestors married by 1910 in Manhattan will find their names in the IGI. Another example of the Extraction Program is all Jews born in London, England, in the 19th century, whose births were recorded in the Hambro Synagogue, were baptized by the Church. This occurred prior to the 1995 agreement. What the Church has ceased to do, in accordance with the 1995 agreement, is to initiate projects to extract specifically Jewish records, such as the Hambro Synagogue birth records.

Still at issue is the statement in the 1995 agreement that the Church would “...discontinue any future baptisms of deceased Jews...where identified or known as Jews....” Consider the marriage record of Fanny Goldberg and Morris Bernstein in New York City. Do their names identify them as Jews? Not necessarily to the thousands of Mormons extracting records at the request of the Church, because they are not familiar with Jewish names. But if the officiant at the marriage is identified as a rabbi, does that identify the couple as Jewish? Similarly, if a Morris Bernstein is among the death records for Massachusetts, his name may not identify him as Jewish, but the fact that he is buried in Beth Moses Cemetery does. These are the problems the ad hoc committee is supposed to resolve. Names Submitted by Individual Mormons

Names may reach the IGI not only because of formally organized Church projects, but because they have been submitted by individual Mormons who are fulfilling their religious obligation to submit names of their own ancestors for what is called “church work.”

At this point in the ad hoc committee meeting, David Rencher, who was explaining the various practices, dropped a bombshell on the Jewish members of the task force. Rencher explained that the LDS Church interprets the phrase “direct ancestors” in the 1995 agreement to include all descendants of an ancestor and had done so for decades prior to the 1995 agreement. A Church member can baptize his great-great-great-grandfather (if that person is known) and all of the descendants of that great-great-great-grandfather even though he is not a direct ancestor as the term is generally used.

Thus, when Sallyann Amdur Sack discovered that all of the sons of Rabbi Israel of Rhuzhany, martyred in 1659, had been baptized, she requested that these names be removed. As readers can see from the following correspondence, this was not done.
(From Sack to Paul Starkey, June 5, 2005). I took your advice and managed to find many of the Zaks listed in the IGI even without access to the full list [a computer “glich” prevents access to the full list—Ed.]. Attached is a family tree I constructed from the Zak and related Zakheim entries in the IGI.

You recall I had questions about the inclusion of Chaim Zak and Chaim Zakheim. You answered that they had been submitted by a Jewish convert to your church who is now on a mission overseas. Although you apparently have not spoken (or written) to her, you have concluded that the entries must have come as a result of her personal genealogical research.

Please look at the attached tree. You will see that Chaim Zak and Chaim Zakheim descend from two different sons of Rabbi Israel of Ruzhany. This means that both men cannot be your submitter's “direct ancestor” as required by the 1995 agreement. She may be descended from one of the men—from either Chaim Zak or Chaim Zakheim—but clearly she cannot be a direct descendant of both men.

In accordance with the 1995 agreement, I request that you delete from the IGI all of the Zak and Zakheim individuals who are not direct ancestors of your submitter.

(Letter to Sallyann Sack from Wayne Metcalfe, June 6, 2005) Thank you for providing the information. The issue of direct has come up in previous instances that I have discussed with Gary. As he and I discussed, according to our beliefs, the family is the core element of our religion. We have always encouraged Church members to submit names in family groups. Thus the two sons of this particular Rabbi would have been submitted in the family grouping per the teachings we have espoused since the submission of names began. Gary didn't agree with the interpretation but did understand the rationale and thought it was consistent with what we believed.

Until we have information from the submitter, I believe that it would be unfair to the submitter to summarily delete these names without further information. I would suggest that we wait until we have that information from the submitter.

(Sallyann Sack to Wayne Metcalfe June 7, 2005) I have shared your message with Gary and Carol. They join me in this reply.

We understand well your position about baptism and about families. David read the Church's policy to us at our May 9 [2005] meeting. We are not questioning it.

Rather, I am simply saying that, under the terms of the 1995 memo, your Church agreed to impose a restriction upon itself when it comes to Jews. Although your policy may be to baptize all of the descendants of an individual's progenitor, under the terms of the 1995 memo, you may not do this when it comes to Jews. In the case of Jews, only “direct ancestors” may be baptized.

Actually, the word “direct” is redundant. By definition, “ancestor” is direct. As any dictionary (or person in the street) will tell you, an ancestor is someone from whom one descends, period.

If you—or the Church—disagrees with this definition, please tell us your definition of “direct ancestor.”

In other words, if a Mormon claims descent from Rashi or from King David, the LDS Church considers it within the bounds of the 1995 agreement to baptize posthumously every descendant of Rashi or of King David. In June 2007, a “family reunion” of descendants of King David will convene in Jerusalem. Among those expected to attend are descendants of European royalty which based its claim to rule on “the divine right of kings” acceding to it from its ancestry with the House of David.

Even if the Church does not attempt to posthumously baptize all descendants of King David or of Rashi, it may create a large loophole to the agreement by virtue of its vigorous proselytizing efforts. The Church has converted a number of Jews who may do as the convert did with the descendants of Rabbi Israel of Rhuzhany. An undated Mormon pamphlet entitled “Missionary Training Manual: For Use in the Jewish Proselyting Program” shows that the Church has a specific program for this purpose. Among other things, it says in the brochure, “Because Jews know so little about their religion, they are easy to convert.”

Wayne Metcalfe responded to Sack's June 7 message thanking her for the clarity with which she stated the Jewish committee members' opinion, explaining that resolution of the issue was beyond the purview of the ad hoc committee and noting that it would need to be addressed by the committee headed by Elder Marlin K. Jensen, executive director of the Family and Church History Department and Ernest Michel. In turn, Jensen has referred the matter to the top leadership of the Church. Current Status

As of mid-November, the governing body of the Mormon Church, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, is still wrestling with the matter of “direct ancestors.”



December 18, 2005
Nu? What's New? Vol. 6, No. 18
News About Jewish Genealogy from Avotaynu
Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Mormons Baptize Their Relatives As Well As Their Ancestors

For the past 20 years, I have encouraged Jewish genealogists to place a copy of their family history research with the Family History Library. I consider it the repository of the Family Tree of the Human Race. I have always cautioned that by doing so, if any of their relatives now or yet to be born converted to the Mormon faith, their research could be used to baptize their ancestors (my definition of "ancestors", that is, those from whom you are descended). Few have considered this an obstacle and they submitted their research to the Library.

During the negotiations between the Mormon and Jewish communities regarding practice of posthumous baptism, the Church disclosed that in the late 1940s they issued a directive to members of their faith that it was proper for them to baptize their relatives as well as their ancestors. Specifically, once a Mormon has gone back in time as far as possible, it was expected that s/he would then come forward and baptize all the deceased descendants of that most distant ancestor.

This came as a shock to the Jewish group because this practice has never appeared, to my knowledge, in public literature. Typical of the statements of the Church is the one here which states "In holy temples, members of the Church can perform these ordinances on behalf of their ancestors who have died." Note the absence of the word "relative." Further evidence that the Church distinguishes between "ancestors" (those from whom you are descended) and "relatives" (those who are descendants of an ancestor) is a statement at the Brigham Young University site which describes the process of bringing names to the Temple to perform ordinances: "Everyone whose name you submit should be an ancestor or close relative."

This creates an interesting dilemma for Jewish genealogists who object to the Mormon practice of baptizing Jews. Many Jewish genealogists, including myself, have contributed their published family histories to the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library. The practice of baptizing any relative of a Mormon means the Church considers it entirely proper for some distantly related Mormon to use my genealogical research donated to the Family History Library to perform posthumous baptism on the more than 1,000 deceased persons on the Mokotow family tree.

A problem in theory only? Don't tell that to Judy Baston of California who found out a distantly related cousin posthumously baptized her mother. Jewish genealogists may want to consider this matter before they donate their family histories to the [LDS] Library.



7 February 2006
by Helen Radkey

Proxy Baptism of Jews: The Splash Goes On

Behind closed temple doors, and unquestionably in defiance of the May 1995 agreement between Mormons and Jews, in which the LDS Church promised to cease temple ordinances for deceased Jews who are not direct ancestors of living Mormons, the practice never stopped. Since 1995, Mormons have performed proxy ordinances for most Jewish notables, including prominent Israeli political figures: Yitzhak Rabin, Moshe Sharett, Golda Meir, David Ben-Gurion and Theodor Herzl--along with hundreds of thousands of other Jews, including multitudes of Jews in the arts, the sciences and in the entertainment field--such as Gilda Radner, the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges. Even Jews on the Titanic, who went into the icy waters of the North Atlantic with the Jewish Shema prayer on their lips, spoken with their last breath, have been proxy baptized and proclaimed as members of the LDS Church.

There is no way to accurately count the number of Jews who have been subjected to proxy ordinances since the agreement was signed. The figure is probably staggering and over a million. In seven years of intensive research, I have amassed a sizeable collection of copies of post-1995 proxy ordinance entries for obvious Jews from the LDS Church’s database of posthumous ordinances, the International Genealogical Index (IGI). Sources are usually not cited in the IGI, but I have found many entries that were taken from identifiable Jewish sources, such as Holocaust lists and synagogue records.

According to LDS belief, the only way to enter the highest "heaven" is by being baptized through Mormon rite. Mormons advise those who protest that proxy baptism does not necessarily make dead Jews into Mormons; it gives their souls, which retain free will, the ability to choose "the true Gospel of Jesus Christ" and thus the opportunity to enter the highest kingdom in the hereafter. However, the baptismal and confirmation prayers used by Mormons in their temples are explicit in their content. Deceased parties are baptized by proxy without the option to decline. They are then confirmed as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by proxy and supposedly given the gift of the Holy Ghost, again without the option to decline. If Mormons, in general, are so adamant that the dead always have the opportunity to accept or reject these posthumous ordinances--then why is this choice not reflected in the wording of their baptismal and confirmation prayers?

If Jews live their lives in the earthly domain as devout Jews, why would they want to deny their religious existence here and adopt some other faith in the world to come? What are some of the deeper implications of proxy baptism?

LDS rites for the dead are unbridled attempts to deny the legitimacy of the religious beliefs of lives already lived and to manipulate deceased parties into Mormonism, under the pretext of supposedly offering these voiceless and defenseless souls the highest degree of spiritual glory in the hereafter. The practice of proxy baptism is the ultimate in religious intolerance. Who are Mormons to say they carry the only "keys" to open heaven's gates-- and then offer these "keys" to Jewish deceased who must either accept this offer or miss out on "celestial glory"?

What Mormons perceive as a service to humanity and not an offense to others is nothing more than self-delusion. Proxy baptism is a form of religious libel. Heartfelt as it may seem to Mormons, it ultimately casts doubt on the Jewish heritage of all Jews, including Jewish religious, philosophical, political and cultural leaders. Centuries from now, when people look to historical documentation about Jewish figures, they'll find that the LDS Church's public lists may show these deceased Jews as Mormons. The private lists of the LDS Church will most certainly show them as such. Mormons may have removed many names of Jews from their IGI records, currently available for public viewing, but the LDS Church maintains private ordinance lists. And, once performed, no LDS ordinance is ever undone, nor is there any procedure by which an ordinance can be reversed, despite vehement protest.

LDS Church members cross the line by collecting the names of multi-thousands of Jews murdered in the Holocaust and inflicting yet another injustice upon them in the form of posthumous ordinances. These innocents died for no other reason than because they were Jews. For the sake of collective Jewish memory, their religious identities must remain intact. Proxy baptisms help to whitewash the Holocaust by attempting to remove the Jewish identities of those who were murdered. And for the sake of historical accuracy, the religious identity of these victims of the Holocaust must remain unquestioned.

Jewish Holocaust victims, described by the Church as having been removed from the IGI database, are reappearing in the lists of the posthumously baptized, name after name, family after family. Some of these Holocaust victims, murdered as young teenagers, have no direct descendants, yet the Mormon faithful submit their names anyway, falsely claiming descendancy. Zealous Mormons are still pouring names of Jewish Holocaust victims into the LDS temple system. Some of these names are showing up in the IGI showing death camps, such as Auschwitz or Sobibor, on the entries.

Mormons are attempting to revise history through proxy baptisms. LDS proxy temple ordinances for Jews demonstrate total disrespect for Jews and Jewish feelings and should not be tolerated by any self-respecting Jew on the face of this earth.

Even as Jewish leaders hold private negotiations with LDS officials on this long unresolved issue, after almost eleven years of continuous agreement breaches by Mormons, where is the outrage? Are these Jewish leaders quietly capitulating to reassurances from LDS officials that there will be new methods to curb the enthusiasm of overzealous Mormons and prevent them from submitting names of Jews from whom they are not directly descended into the LDS Church's temple system?

Why do Jewish leaders continue to overlook the huge number of deceased Jews subjected to proxy ordinances in violation of the 1995 agreement? Shouldn't they emphatically seek redress from the LDS Church that repeatedly gives, and then breaks its word to Jews, all the while shamefully denying wrongdoing? Don't the Jewish leaders who were involved in the signing of this legal agreement have a responsibility to the worldwide Jewish community to take decisive action against this group of religious revisionists who think they are the exclusive caretakers of salvation?

Representing the memory of every single deceased Jew subjected to posthumous ordinances by Mormons in blatant violation of the 1995 agreement should be the primary task of the Jews who signed this document. Why have these Jewish leaders collectively abdicated their moral and ethical responsibility to ensure that the provisions of the agreement are finally and firmly enforced?

© Copyright 2006 Helen Radkey - All rights reserved



Winter 2006, XXI, 4, p67
Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy
By Aubrey Newman
(Emeritus) Professor of History
University of Leicester
England

Chastizes Mormons

I am annoyed at the waste of time and effort over this controversy which is once more being caused by the Mormon use of various genealogical records. To the vast majority of Jews, the concept of posthumous baptism is a piece of nonsense. I cannot envision my respectable rabbinic forebears being dragged away from profound theological discussions with Rashi and the Vilna Gaon in order to play some role in Joseph Smith’s version of Heaven. What does disturb me however is that the historical record is being deliberately falsified. Numbers of Jewish names are being nominated for this process of posthumous baptism, and the record will apparently show that they were allegedly converts without making clear that it was by no act of their own.

I am even more concerned at the deliberate bad faith which has emerged following what seemed to have been agreed to some ten years ago. It seems to me that the Mormons have been guilty of deliberate bad faith, of calculated and deliberate obfuscation, and that they never intended to abide by the agreements they themselves made. I think that all those who are in any way concerned with historical truth should inform as widely as possible of these facts. I invite others to join with me in making these facts known in as many journals as possible.

I would suggest also that if those organizations which originally allowed the Mormons to microfilm their archives retained their copyright in them, they should now withdraw those materials from the Mormon Church and forbid any further use being made of them.



May 26, 2006
Associated Press
by Jennifer Dobner

Mormon baptism database in dispute: Holocaust survivors are listed in it despite agreement, Jews say

Jewish leaders in a dispute with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over its practice of posthumous baptisms say there is new evidence that the names of Jewish Holocaust victims continue to show up in the church's vast genealogical database.

"We've been dealing with it for 11 years, since 1995, and we continue to deal with it," said Ernest Michel, a Holocaust survivor and founding member of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors.

A cross-referencing of more than 1,500 Dutch Jews whose names should have been deleted from the church's International Genealogical Index remain in the database, Michel said.

Over the past three months, the entries were matched by Salt Lake City researcher Helen Radkey against a 1995 list of deleted names provided by church leaders to Michel's organization, which has contracted with Radkey for research services since 1999.

Michel, whose parents were posthumously baptized, said Wednesday he is in talks with church leaders and is working on setting up a July meeting to discuss the latest findings.

Mormon church spokesman Mike Otterson said Friday that no meeting had been scheduled, but that Michel is encouraged to bring his concerns before a working group of church staff and Jews set up in April 2005 to continue to work out database issues.

"One of the benefits of previous meetings is that we established an ongoing joint working group that would address what would appear to be any anomalies, or anything that appears to be slipping through our screening process," Otterson said. "That committee continues to meet and continues to be the best place for addressing these concerns."

Posthumous baptism is a sacred rite practiced in Mormon church temples for the purpose of offering membership in the church to the deceased. Church members are encouraged to conduct family genealogy research and forward their ancestors' names for baptism.

Church President Gordon B. Hinckley has said the baptismal rite is only an offer of membership that can be rejected in the afterlife by individuals.

"So, there's no injury done to anybody," Hinckley told the AP in an interview last November.

But Jews are offended by the practice and in 1995 signed an agreement with Mormon leaders that should have prevented the names of Holocaust victims from being added to the genealogical index. The agreement would also have limited entries of other Jewish names to those persons who are direct ancestors of current Mormons.

Also that year, church family history officials gave Michel a compact disc, which they said contained 380,000 Holocaust victims' names which had been removed from church records.

An analysis of the CD by New Jersey-based Jewish genealogy expert Gary Mokotoff, however, showed the CD contained only 247,479 names, of which 31,688 were duplicates.

Since then Radkey has documented thousands of database entries that indicate the practice of adding names has not stopped. In April 2005 five boxes of Radkey's research - more than 5,700 entries - were given to Mormon leaders during a meeting with Michel and others from his organization in Salt Lake City.

Afterward, D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the church's leadership group called the Presidency of the Seventy, said the two groups would work toward an arrangement that would not "compromise our core beliefs and practices," while "still addressing the concerns of Jewish leaders."

The most recent 1,500 names of Dutch Jews are only a sampling, Radkey said. But the numbers are sufficient to raise questions about whether Jewish names were ever removed from the index, or have been re-entered into the system, which has an estimated 400 million records, she said. She also believes the church is ignoring the "direct ancestor" portion of the agreement.

"The sheer volume of entries in the IGI of Jewish, Yiddish names is overwhelming," said Radkey, who also noted nearly 1,000 marriage records that raise similar questions. "You can't have that number of obvious Jewish Holocaust victims and say that all of them are related to Mormons."

Michel said he has a good personal relationship with Mormon leaders and appreciates that they continue to discuss the issue.

"But they did sign (the agreement) and I think they've regretted it ever since," Michel said.



July 2, 2006
Nu What's Nu?: News About Jewish Genealogy From Avotaynu
Vol. 7, No. 10, (Excerpt)
Gary Mokotoff, Editor

London Birth Records Extracted

In the 1960s, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, representing themselves as the Genealogical Society of Utah, approached the Beit Din of London and offered to preserve the birth records of the Jewish community on microfilm. The Jewish group consented. The agreement made no mention of using the records for Mormon rituals. After the microfilm reached Salt Lake City, the contents were distributed to Mormon volunteers who extracted the information, and the Church posthumously baptized hundreds of Jews identified on the birth records. In 1994, Charles Tucker, archivist for the Beit Din, wrote to me and said had they known the information would be used for Mormon religious purposes, they would never have consented to the microfilming of the records.



August 27, 2006
Nu? What's New?: News About Jewish Genealogy from Avotaynu
Vol. 7, No. 13
Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Mormon/Jewish Controversy: The Problem That Won't Go Away

What I have to say about the August 7 meeting [August 7, 2006, between officials of the Mormon Church and representatives of the Jewish Organizations] is my perception of what happened and is not any official version. There never will be an official version. The meeting ended with handshakes, not because the parties agreed that the matter has been solved, but more that each group better understood the position of the other. It is unlikely there will be further meetings between the two groups.

These were my conclusions of what happened. This is emes [truth].

Members of the Mormon faith will continue to posthumously baptize any person related to them no matter how distantly related. This is Church policy and they will not yield on this point even though the 1995 agreement limited the practice on baptizing Jews to direct ancestors. I stated to the senior Church official at the meeting that I have spent the past 25 years documenting the Mokotow family and placed all the names and vital information--a total of 1,200 people--on the Internet at the Family Tree of the Jewish People site on JewishGen. Was he saying that if my fourth cousin twice removed converted to the Mormon faith, it would be proper for this distant relative to use my research to posthumously baptize all deceased persons on my family tree who were born more than 95 years ago? The official said "yes."

The 95-year consideration refers to a Church policy that individual Mormons may not posthumous baptize any person who was born in the past 95 years without the permission of the individual's closest living relatives. What this means, in my case, is it would not be proper for a distant Mormon relative of mine to baptized my deceased father (born in 1914) but it would be proper for him to baptize all four of my grandparents (born in the 1880s).

A new rule of the Church is that individual Mormons will be limited to performing temple ordinances on relatives only. A relative is any descendant of an ancestor. Previously, Mormons would submit lists of people not related to them for temple ordinances. Examples of past submissions are (1) 128,000 German Jews murdered in the Holocaust; (2) all the persons in a register that happened to include an ancestor; (3) famous persons such as Anne Frank, Adolph Hitler and Groucho Marx. Still open for discussion is the practice by individual Mormons to baptize all deceased persons with the same surname from the same small town on the grounds that, while it cannot be proved they are related, it is assumed they are because of the identical surname. I noted to one of the Mormon officials this does not necessarily apply to Jews. Since Jewish surnames are a relatively new phenomenon--less than 200 years old--two Jews named Schneider from a small town in Eastern Europe are not necessarily related but may merely represent that they are descended from two men who were tailors ("schneider" means "tailor" in Yiddish).

The Church is serious about these new restrictions on members of their faith. The acts of individual Mormons in baptizing non-related persons are the ones that make the news media and are an embarrassment to the Church who considers posthumous baptism a sacred doctrine.

The Church plans to enforce these rules through education and discipline. Literature about entering names in TempleReady, the data entry program through which deceased people are proposed for temple ordinances, will include the rules. Mormons using TempleReady will be educated in the process. The TempleReady data entry program will have messages describing the rules. Most importantly, members of the faith who violate the rules will be disciplined if they fail to follow the rules. Using TempleReady requires password entry. Chronic offenders will have their password withdrawn. Those who try to get around the password restriction may have even further measures against them.

Enforcing the rules will be made easier, because the Church plans to have a computer program screen the names submitted through TempleReady prior to submission for temple ordinances. Names will have to get past many rules, or they will be flagged as suspect. Warning signs may include (1) submission of too many names by one person; (2) non-lineage linked names; and (3) names of famous persons. In the past, it was generally agreed by non-Mormons that the rules were often ignored. As I noted at the meeting, having a speed limit law does not keep drivers from driving over the speed limit. It is the police car with flashing lights on the side of the road with a passenger car in front that makes people obey the law.

All the above involves the Church policy regarding acts of individual Mormons. In reality, this probably represents less than 5% of the deceased persons on whom temple ordinances are performed. The vast majority of people are affected by the Church's Extraction Program. The Church, using the name Genealogical Society of Utah, collects copies of records from repositories all over the world, brings them to Salt Lake City and then distributes these records to Mormon volunteers who extract the information through TempleReady. Here is how the Extraction Program affects deceased Jews.

The Church still plans to acquire Jewish records, but they will not be used as part of their Extraction Program. They state this was stopped immediately after the signing of 1995 agreement. Jews posthumously baptized through the Extraction Program were found as late as 2004. The Church explained that they were individuals for whom the extraction process started prior to May 1995 and that the total process can, indeed, take years. It appears they made not attempt to recall records after signing the agreement.

The Church is amenable to working with the Jewish Organizations to develop a method of identifying Jews in the prescreening process by analyzing their names. This is potentially a very sophisticated analysis, because many Jews living in lands where they are accepted into main-stream society tended to change their given names and surnames to more assimilated names. Gershon Tartasky may be clearly Jewish, but Harry Tarson may not. If such a screening program is implemented, it will be imperfect, but will at least remove some Jews.

At the meeting, the senior Church official noted that the Church recognized that Jews are particular sensitive to the posthumous baptism of Jews murdered in the Holocaust. They stated that the 95-year rule would apply to any Holocaust victim independent of when the victim was born. Therefore, a Mormon who had relatives murdered in the Holocaust must get permission of the closest living relatives of the victim before baptism can be performed. If this rule is strictly adhered to, few Holocaust victims would be baptized. Consider the extreme case of a grandson of a Holocaust victim who converts to the Mormon faith. I interpret the Church's gesture to mean that this person could not baptize the victim, who is a direct ancestor, unless he obtained the approval of all the closest living relatives to perform the rite. Only in the case where the Mormon was the only closest relative would permission not be needed. Removal of Holocaust victims already in the International Genealogical Index (IGI) was discussed, but there were no conclusions. It was suggested that the IGI be purged of all persons whose death place was shown as a concentration camp site such as Auschwitz, Sobibor, etc. The Mormon participant who had the most technological knowledge claimed it could not be done. I disagreed, and nothing was formally concluded.

The Church will continue its practice of removing from the IGI Jews who are non-relatives of Mormons if a request is sent to them. The Church will research how the name got into the system, and if it violated any of the rules noted above or reached the IGI through the Extraction Program, the name will be removed.

The Church has future plans to combine their religious index (IGI) with their genealogical collections in what is being called the Combined Index. In 2005 the Church stated that it would be possible for a non-Mormon to tell whether a temple ordinance was performed on their relative because those entries would be flagged in the Combined Index. The Church is now saying this may not be true in the final system due to considerations that have nothing to do with the Mormon/Jewish controversy.

Why did the Church refuse to honor its commitment made in the 1995 agreement to limit baptisms to direct ancestors? In my opinion, it was because they came to realize they should never have signed the agreement in the first place. The 1995 agreement violates Church doctrine and policy, and no religion will violate its doctrine and policy.

This Mormon/Jewish controversy has not been put to rest; it is still a burning ember. It is highly likely that, in the near future, an incident will occur, such as the baptism of Holocaust victims which triggered the current controversy. It will fan the flames again. The Church will claim at that time that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives it the right to involve other people's families in the Mormon religion, because their stated mission is the salvation through Jesus Christ of the entire human race both living and dead.



December 17, 2006
http://www.wiesenthal.com

SWC Calls On Mormon Church To Immediately Remove Simon Wiesenthal's Name From Database

The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on the Mormon Church to immediately remove Simon Wiesenthal from its online International Genealogical Index (IGI), which is the Mormon database of posthumous ordinances.

“We are astounded and dismayed that after assurances and promises by the Mormon Church that Mr. Wiesenthal's life and memory, along with so many other Jews, would be trampled and disregarded,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Wiesenthal Center’s founder and dean.

“Simon Wiesenthal was one of the great Jews in the post-Holocaust period. He proudly lived as a Jew, died as a Jew, demanded justice for the millions of the victims of the Holocaust, and, at his request was buried in the State of Israel. It is sacrilegious for the Mormon faith to desecrate his memory by suggesting that Jews on their own are not worthy enough to receive G-ds’ eternal blessing, “added Rabbi Hier.

“We therefore urge the Church to remove his name and the names of all other Holocaust victims immediately,” Hier concluded.


[In a Jewish Times of Seattle article, a Mormon claimed that the Church has met their commitment to the Jews regarding posthumous baptisms. This is the response of Gary Mokotoff, leader of American-Jewish genealogy. [Ed.]]

March 1, 2008
jtnews.net
Letters
Gary Mokotoff
Bergenfield, N.J.

Acts of the church

Posthumous baptism of Jews by the Mormon Church, [that it was] was the act of “just nine people out of 13 million Mormons” is not true (The record keepers,” Feb. 22). Until the Mormon Church signed an agreement with certain Jewish organizations in May 1995, the Church itself regularly acquired Jewish records — often under the false pretense of record preservation — and used them for their religious rituals, including posthumous baptism. An example was the records of the Hambro synagogue of London, England. All persons whose births were recorded in the synagogue in the 19th century were baptized. The Church did not limit itself to birth records. All the Jews murdered in the Holocaust who were recorded in a Dutch memorial book were posthumously baptized by an act of the Church, not the act of individual Mormons.

This practice stopped with the signing of the 1995 agreement, but it was discovered that as late as 2004, and likely up to this date, that Jewish records that were distributed by the Church to its local churches before 1995 were still being used for posthumous baptism. When this was discovered in 2005, the Church claimed they had no way of stopping these baptisms. This seems unreasonable. A simple directive to all the local wards could have stopped the extraction of names.

[Mark] Paredes stated that Church rules make it clear that a person who adds a name to the baptism rolls must be able to prove that they are related. This is true. But it is also true that this rule, along with many other rules, are ignored by individual Mormons, and the Church makes no attempt to enforce the rules. For example, there is a rule that you cannot posthumously baptize any person who was born within the past 95 years without permission of the closest relative. Yet Anne Frank was baptized six times. There is a rule that you should baptize only relatives, not famous people, yet Simon Wiesenthal was recently “cleared for baptism.” I call all these rules the “55-mile-an-hour-speed-limit” rules of the Mormon Church. The rules are there, but no one follows them and the Church does not enforce them.

Paredes states that a Mormon is permitted to perform ordinances on any relative. This is true. But the 1995 agreement with the Jewish organization specifically limits it to “direct ancestors.” The Church has not enforced this rule.

No one has a right to involve other people’s families in their religion. It is time that the Mormon Church did the honorable thing and met its commitment to the Jewish people to cease this offensive act of posthumous baptism as outlined in the agreement they signed in 1995.



May 8, 2008
Reuters Blogs

Catholic-Mormon tension over LDS baptism of the dead (excerpts)

Posted by: Tom Heneghan

The issue of Mormon proxy baptisms has resurfaced with the news that the Vatican has written to Catholic dioceses around the world telling them not to provide parish records to the Genealogical Society of Utah. As the Catholic News Service reported last week, the letter calls proxy baptism using these records “detrimental” and says the Vatican did not want Catholic parishes “to cooperate with the erroneous practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”. Mormons use genealogical data to find names of people to baptise posthumously, a practice the Roman Catholic Church rejects on theological grounds.

This is not just an issue for Catholics, Jews asked similar questions in the 1990s, after finding Holocaust victims on the IGI. After strong Jewish protests, the Church agreed in 1995 to stop proxy baptising them, a step that seemed to indicate some recognition of a problem. However, names of Jews have continued to appear over the years, including that of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in 2006. According to Helen Radkey, a researcher who specialises on the IGI, “In 2008, the Church is still posthumously baptising Jewish Holocaust victims, against the terms of the agreement it signed with Jewish groups on May 3, 1995.” Read more.



May 2008
saintsalive.com

The 1995 Mormon-Jewish Agreement: A Failed Effort

by Helen Radkey

[Excerpt] Has the LDS Church made a diligent and reasonable effort to honor its 1995 pact with Jewish groups? In my opinion, the answer is a resounding “no.” Not only has the flow of names of those who were “knowingly Jewish” gone unchecked through LDS temples, LDS officials have never openly acknowledged that the agreement has not worked. The number of Jews known to have been subjected to LDS posthumous ordinances against the terms of the 1995 agreement is large-scale. Jewish representatives handling the proxy baptism issue should be sounding the shofar to awaken complacent Jews —and to loudly call the LDS Church to repentance —for the rest of the world to hear.
Since the origination of the Mormon-Jewish agreement, the names of tens of thousands, and likely hundreds of thousands of identifiable Jews, have appeared in the IGI. Read more.



Nov. 10, 2008
Allison Hoffman, Jerusalem Post Correspondent
New York, THE JERUSALEM POST

Jewish group wants Mormons to stop proxy baptisms

NEW YORK - Holocaust survivors said Monday they were abandoning negotiations with the Mormon church over its posthumous baptisms of Jews who were killed in Nazi death camps.

Survivors claim elders of the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have refused to systemically search for and remove the names of Holocaust victims from their master genealogical database and have failed to prevent "zealots" from adding thousands of new Jewish names to the list in recent years - including thousands lifted from Yizkor books of Jews massacred at Berdichev in Ukraine.

"We are not going to continue meeting with the Mormon Church," said Auschwitz survivor Ernest Michel, head of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, who has spearheaded efforts to scrub the Mormon lists since discovering in the 1990s that his parents were among 380,000 Holocaust victims having been baptized into the Christian faith.

Gary Motokoff, a Jewish genealogist who participated in meetings with Mormon leaders, described the negotiations as "fruitless."

"We go round and round, and they refuse to change their position," Motokoff [told] the The Jerusalem Post.

He and Michel claimed the church had failed to enforce rules it agreed to in 1995 to prevent Holocaust victims' names from being added and had not reprimanded those who moved to restore thousands that had been removed form baptismal lists.

"The Church's actions show disrespect for us - they revise history, intentionally or not," said Michel, who cited July correspondence with church leaders at a Manhattan news conference in which elders stated they would only remove the names of Jewish Holocaust victims upon request rather than conducting their own records search.

"Leave our six million people, all victims, alone," Michel said. "They have suffered enough."

According to Mormon teaching, posthumous baptism - done through a living proxy - does not automatically override a dead person's Jewishness but merely opens the door for the soul to accept or reject Mormon teaching. Dead celebrities from Albert Einstein to Pope John Paul II have been posthumously baptized by Mormon proxies seeking to help the dead enter heaven.

The Church responded by releasing correspondence dated November 6, written after their last meeting with Michel's group on November 3, in which leaders insisted that the practice of posthumous baptism has no effect on the "Jewishness" of a person.

"The effect of baptism by proxy or any other ordinance for the dead is to make an offer, which the individual may choose to accept. If not accepted, the ordinance is of no effect," wrote Marlin Jensen, a church elder.

Jensen added that the church is in the process of upgrading its genealogical database and will flag the names of any Holocaust victims as ineligible for baptism or other ordinances except at the request of immediate surviving family members.

Jensen also proposed establishing a joint review committee to address specific concerns over the addition of names.

"Everyone has agreed that we don't want the names of Holocaust victims on the [master database]," Michael Otterson, head of public affairs for the Church, told the Post. "The problem is how to prevent it - it's like trying to get everyone to comply with the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit, so we've been very reluctant to guarantee those names won't appear."

Otterson claimed the new system would "substantially reduce if not eliminate" the problem by requiring submitters to explain their own genealogical link to those they want baptized - as much to address the Holocaust victims issue as to prevent other "mischief" involving celebrities.

But he said the Church would not agree to automatically remove anyone with Jewish-sounding names, instead requiring Jewish groups to continue supplying names of victims, out of concern that a legitimate baptism might be accidentally purged and thereby denied the right to reach heaven.

Independent researcher Helen Radkey, who began canvassing Mormon lists for people with Jewish names after learning that Dutch diarist Anne Frank had been posthumously baptized, scoffed at the proposal. She said the church had failed to remove all 380,000 known Holocaust victims' names after the 1995 agreement with Michel's group, while her searches of closed databases revealed many baptized Mormons with typically Jewish names like Solomon or Esther who had died between 1941 and 1945.

"The list problem is something the church could have cracked down on, should have cracked down on, and has not cracked down on," Radkey told the Post. She said the database could be easily compared against lists from Yad Vashem or other Holocaust clearinghouses.

Yet Holocaust survivor Roman Kent, who appeared with Michel and Radkey, said he felt the issue was far simpler.

"Forget the lists - it is not a numbers game," Kent said at a press conference held in Manhattan. "If it is even 100 people, it is too many."

-- This article can also be read here

washingtonpost.com
Around the Nation
November 11, 2008; Page A08

Jewish Group Exhorts Mormons

NEW YORK -- Holocaust survivors said they are through trying to negotiate with the Mormon church over posthumous baptisms of Jews killed in Nazi concentration camps, saying the church has repeatedly violated a 13-year-old agreement barring the practice. Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints say they are making changes to their massive genealogical database to make it more difficult for names of Holocaust victims to be entered for posthumous baptism by proxy, a rite that has been a common Mormon practice for more than a century.

But Ernest Michel, honorary chairman of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, said that is not enough. "We ask you to respect us and our Judaism just as we respect your religion," Michel said in a statement. "We ask you to leave our six million Jews, all victims of the Holocaust, alone, they suffered enough." Posthumous baptism by proxy allows faithful Mormons to have their ancestors baptized into the 178-year-old church, which they believe reunites families in the afterlife.
-- From News Services


November 30, 2009
Nu? What's New? (excerpt)
Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Documenting History

Of all the articles I have written, the one I consider most important was published in AVOTAYNU in 1995 titled "The Mormon/Jewish Controversy: What Really Happened." It is reproduced here. When the news media found out in 1994 that the Mormon Church had posthumously baptized hundreds of thousands of Jews murdered in the Holocaust, they stated that this was discovered by the Holocaust survivor community. This was historically inaccurate. The controversy started two years earlier when the Jewish genealogical community discovered the baptisms, and they went public with the information in 1994 when the Church said they were going to do nothing about it.



Jews Understanding Of Our Relationship With God

Commentary By Adam L. [a Jewish blogger]

..."as a people, it really isn’t a concern to the Jews whether other religious communities believe we need to find salvation through conversion. As part of our fundamental religious doctrine, we don’t believe that we (or mankind in general) are “fallen” or need to be saved. We believe that our covenant with God is forever (as long as we continue to honor it) and, therefore, have no need to form new covenants along the way. In fact, to do so would be a violation of our covenant with God. Rather than sinners who must find redemption, Jews believe that we are fully worthy partners in God’s work and that his task for us is to repair/complete the world through good works, righteous living, and honoring God’s law–a concept known as tikkun olam. I bring this up only to say that, ultimately, whatever the LDS Church or other religious communities believe about the status of the Jewish people in God’s eyes really doesn’t matter to Jews themselves; we simply have a very different paradigm in our understanding of our relationship with God." [Comment by Adam L — http://www.timesandseasons.org/index.php?p=2314 .15.]


Mormon Baptism Of The Jewish Dead

Commentary by Dan Leeson

No statistics are known about how the Jewish community views the practice of Mormon baptism of dead Jews. This addition to the InfoFile on the subject devotes itself to one perspective that is frequently voiced and that view is summarized with the following paraphrase (though not a quotation): "While Jews may find this activity distasteful, (1) there is no Jewish theological significance in this Mormon practice, and (2) it has no standing in Jewish law."

This perspective, when offered by individual Jews, appears to be for the purpose of minimizing Jewish objections to the Mormon practice. It is, in effect, a statement that says, "we-have-far-more-important-things-to-worry-about," which may also be accompanied by the assertion that Jewish use of the Mormon genealogic data bases is of such value that complaining about this matter could endanger that effort. Also offered is the practical view which suggests that there is nothing that can be done about this in any case; i.e., Mormons do not make their theological choices based on how comfortable another religious community is with those decisions.

Many of these arguments are strong, perhaps even correct. But the presumption that this matter is unimportant shows a tragic lack of Jewish historic memory. Forced baptism by the Catholic church, a practice that, until recently, had been going on for almost 1,000 years, may also be spoken of as being unimportant using the same arguments about the irrelevancy of Mormon baptism of the dead; i.e., absence of Jewish theological significance to the Catholic practice, and its irrelevance in Jewish law.

Until one examines the Jewish community's chaos and horror brought about by the consequences of Catholic forced baptisms, one has no business suggesting that such events were unimportant. True, at the time that the church was actively involved in such acts, their consequences were brought about by the fact that the church and the state were inseparable. And since the reduction of the Papal states to only the Vatican, those activities have had only modest implications to the Jewish community world wide.

One could argue that Mormon baptisms of the dead are not comparable to forced Catholic baptisms of the living because Mormon theology, unlike that of the Catholic church, does not assert that baptism of a dead individual goes beyond that party, and the Mormon church does not hold the political position that the Catholic church held during the times of its most aggressive forced baptisms. However, the Mormon church is growing and this theological detail could be quickly reversed. Most theologies, including our own, undergo continuous evolution, but a pillar of Mormon theology is one of change.

What this says is that, today, Mormon baptism of the dead holds no consequences for non-Mormon descendants of the baptized individual. This is quite different from Catholic theology where forced baptisms of one person could very well endow a descendant with a mandated but unasked-for Catholic heritage. However, there is no reason to presume that current Mormon theology and Mormon political power could never undergo a change.

If the expressed concerns about Catholic forced baptism and its consequences to the Jewish community sound exaggerated, the reader is directed to, "The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara" of David I. Kertzer, and his later book, "The Popes Against the Jews: the Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Antisemitism." The books are works of non fiction and both deal with the issue of forced baptism and its consequences to the Jewish community.

In summary, this view of these activities suggests that there are no conceptual differences between the forced baptismal activities on the living by the Catholic church and the current forced baptismal activities on the Jewish dead by the Mormon church. Mormon reaction to this perspective has been to suggest that this view is alarmist and that such fears could not possibly ever become reality. It is suggested that one should always be cautious about recognizing anyone's assurances that the now will never change.



Final thoughts

In 1995, the LDS Church and representatives of the Jewish community signed the agreement described at the beginning of this article. Jews have objected to the continuing Mormon practice of wrongful baptism 3 of the Jewish dead, especially in the case of Holocaust victims, claiming that the practice mirrored the forced baptism of Jews in the middle ages.

A decade later this wrongful practice, which demonstrates a disrespect for Jews and Jewish feelings, has not ended.  Because of public objections, the Church did remove names of thousands of Jewish holocaust victims from the IGI.  However, they continue the baptismal ritual that hijacks Jewish forebears.  Names of thousands of baptized Jews have not yet been expunged from within the growing Church records while new victims continue to be added.  Removed names often reappear at a later date.  The wrongful posthumous baptism of Jewish dead continues, despite denials by the Mormon leadership.  Their practice of turning dead Jews into Mormons is a brazen act that may obscure the historical record for future generations.  One hundred years from now, will anyone know who you were?

We urge the Church to:

  • Comply with the 1995 agreement.
  • Cease the ongoing wrongful baptisms of the Jewish dead.
  • Constitute a task force to search and expunge from all baptismal records, all wrongful baptisms of the Jewish dead.


I. Search the International Genealogical Index ("the IGI")

The IGI 1 serves as an international baptismal index (entries of all of whom have had their temple work done).  Information comes from submissions 2 by their membership, and it is not always accurate.  As you search the IGI you may be surprised to find the names of your parents, of your grandparents, and of your great-grandparents, those who have bequeathed to you all you are of body and mind.  To begin your IGI search click here.

To run a random search for Holocaust victims in the IGI, see 'Additional Notes' below.

II. Request Removal Of Inappropriate Names

If you feel a special connection to those who have gone before you and an increased responsibility to those who will follow, you will insist on removal of their names from all baptismal lists.

A Church Elder said such requests are considered on an individual basis and "under appropriate circumstances, we do grant requests to the extent that we no longer display those records in our public data bases.  We have no way, as a church, of undoing ordinances that have been performed". [7]

E-mail specific requests for name removal to help@productsupport.familysearch.org.

Names removed from the IGI often reappear at a later date, so re-check it periodically.  We believe that names may never be removed from the Ordinance Index which contains historical records of Church activity

LDS recommends that you submit the following information, if known:

  • The individual’s name
  • The individual’s birth date and place
  • The individual’s parents’ names
  • The individual’s spouse’s name
  • Your name, address, and daytime phone number
  • Your relationship to the mentioned individual
  • The reason you think the individual should be removed

Alternate address:

Family and Church History Department
Attention: Family History Support, IGI Corrections
50 East North Temple Street, JSMB 3W
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-3460


ADDITIONAL NOTES AND GLOSSARY

UPDATE 2007: To conceal the record from non-members, only accredited Mormons with a special user log-in can now access ordinance data in the online IGI to determine which posthumous LDS rituals have been performed.


  • Click here to view LDS article "Mormon Baptism for the Dead".
  • Click here to view "Baptism for the Dead" from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

HOW TO RANDOM SEARCH FOR HOLOCAUST VICTIMS IN THE IGI:

  1. Go to http://tinyurl.com/5kwh, or http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Search/frameset_search.asp?PAGE=igi/search_IGI.asp&clear_form=true.
  2. In FIRSTNAME box, type common Jewish name, i.e.: Sarah, Moses, Chaim, Isaac, etc.  Leave LASTNAME box blank.
  3. In EVENT, select DEATH/BURIAL
  4. In YEAR RANGE, select '+/- TWO YEARS'
  5. In YEAR, type any one year between 1942-1945 (1944 is best).
  6. In region, select CONTINENTAL EUROPE
  7. In COUNTRY, select POLAND (country with most camps)
  8. Leave all other boxes blank, now click SEARCH.
  9. Search results will display a list of names of many Holocaust victims.  Click on an individual's name to select record to display.
    (Frequently a death camp will be named).
  10. Click PEDIGREE near top of page to view Family Tree.

To search for a specific individual, do enter specific name/date/place, try variant spellings.


01] Before the International Genealogy Index (the IGI) was made available online to the general public, ordinances (baptisms, endowments, sealings) were removed from the IGI. For LDS ordinance information, a new database called Ordinance Index (OI) was created. Submissions in the IGI/OI come from vital records extraction, family file submissions to the temple, or LDS membership records. These files contain the names of deceased people who have had their temple ordinance work done. The Ordinance Index is set up exactly the same as the IGI, the only difference between the two is the inclusion of the LDS ordinance dates in the Ordinance Index. The Ordinance Index serves as the Church’s official record of temple work [and is password protected]. "Remember: The two files have the same information and are searched the same, except the Ordinance Index shows LDS Ordinance dates (baptism, endowment, sealings) and the IGI file does not." [Source: http://familyhistory.byu.edu/labs/handouts/h-igi.htm ] It's most-probably one database and one search engine. The search engine tests to see if you've given the password and, if so, displays more information that it would if you had no password.
02]Baptisms for the Dead - Jesus Christ taught that baptism is essential to the salvation of all who have lived on earth (see John 3:5). Many people, however, have died without being baptized. Others were baptized without proper authority. Because God is merciful, He has prepared a way for all people to receive the blessings of baptism. By performing proxy baptisms in behalf of those who have died, Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors. Individuals can then choose to accept or reject what has been done in their behalf. [Source: The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints: Gospel Library, Gospel Topics]
1] The International Genealogical Index (IGI): The IGI contains several hundred million deceased individuals extracted from vital records or submitted by LDS church members, all of whom have had their temple work done. This file is the same as the Ordinance Index found in Family History Centers. In order to access the ordinance dates through the IGI online, LDS church members must sign onto the website and also include their confirmation date and membership number (obtained through your ward clerk). [Source:http://261.byu.edu/lesson3.html]
2] Extraction or submission? Generally, there are two ways in which the Church obtains the names contained in the IGI. One is through its member/non-member submissions; the other through its extraction program, by trained volunteers. How does a researcher distinguish between an extraction and a submission? If you examine the batch/source column that is listed at the right of all IGI microfiche entries, you will see that each has been given a number. If there is no letter preceding the number, and if the fourth digit is less than four, the information was not extracted by the Church but was a submission. The batch number refers the user to the exact source of the entry. In most cases, microfilm copies of the source are available from Salt Lake City. Ask your LDS Family History Center librarian for assistance. Looking at the LDS ordinance dates you will see that there is a column for Baptism, another for Endowment and the last for Sealings. If these were performed after 1969, there is a good chance that the FGRA pink forms were used. The submitter’s name will then be listed on the bottom of the form with his/her address at the time, along with death dates, family relationships, and resources listed in more detail. These batch numbers are also call numbers that you, as a researcher, can gain access to and view. To acquire the seven digit ordering number ask your LDS Family History Center librarian. [Source: Understanding the International Genealogical Index (IGI) by Joan Wood http://www.ifhf.org/ifhfsample2.html]
3] baptize, baptism:- the ritual (with confirmation) by which one becomes a member of the Mormon church and becomes cleansed from sin. It is administered to Mormon children when they turn eight years old, and to all converts. It requires the complete immersion of the body in water, and the pronouncement of a short formula. (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 11:25) ... Since baptism is required for salvation, Mormons provide for those who have died without the opportunity of being properly baptized by performing baptisms for the dead by proxy in Mormon temples.
4] The Ordinance Index contains millions of records extracted from vital records or submitted by LDS Church members. It is identical to the IGI except for the inclusion of LDS temple ordinance dates. ... The Ordinance Index serves as the Church’s official record of temple work... It can be used by members of the Church [only]. [Source: http://familyhistory.byu.edu/labs/ordinance%20index.asp]
5] endowment(s), endowed:- The most important of the rituals performed in the temple, only for worthy adults. It involves ritual washings, anointings, observing a lengthy dramatic summary of the Mormon view of God's plan, learning secret passwords and handgrips, all dress in special ritual robes (called "temple clothing" or "temple robes")... After being endowed, Mormons are encouraged to repeat the ritual as often as possible, as proxy for dead persons, who thus become eligible for the celestial kingdom.
6] seal, sealing;- Mormons believe that families who are ceremonially joined to each other (husband to wife, parents to children) will enjoy that same relationship in the next life. [Source: http://home.teleport.com/~packham/glossary.htm]
7] Elder Jensen said such requests [for name removal] are considered on an individual basis and "under appropriate circumstances, we do grant requests to the extent that we no longer display those records in our public data bases. We have no way, as a church, of undoing ordinances that have been performed." Source: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695206187,00.html

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Compiled by Bernard I. Kouchel kooshb9341@bellsouth.net.
Last update: 04 Dec 2009   BIK

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