Archive for February, 2012

A Mormon Practice That Troubles Some Jews

February 29, 2012

This opinion piece was first published on the Forward Thinking blog at the Forward.

The Salt Lake Mormon Temple

The Mormon practice of baptizing deceased Jews by proxy is nothing new. The Jews called the Mormons on it years ago, and the Church promised to stop doing it. But recent headlines have indicated that some Mormons, unable to suppress their desire to save the souls of dead Jews, are back at it.

Big names — both deceased and living — have been involved. The parents of the late Simon Wiesenthal and relatives of Elie Wiesel have been baptized. Just the other day word got out that Anne Frank had been baptized…again. As would be expected, the Simon Wiesenthal Center spoke out against this, as did Abe Foxman from the Anti-Defamation League. Wiesel called on GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney (who admitted to performing these posthumous rituals at one point), as the most prominent Mormon in the country to tell his Church to stop the practice.

As distasteful as this baptism by proxy business seems to me, I had originally decided that I was going to refrain from commenting on it. But when I happened upon two related items in the media almost simultaneously on Wednesday, I thought again.

I completely agree with Jeff Jacoby, who wrote in his Boston Globe column titled, “Mormon ritual is no threat to Jews” that it is odious to equate these posthumous conversions to a second Holocaust, as some have hysterically suggested. I also concur that the Mormons’ highly unusual interest in the family trees of every person who has every walked the earth can be very helpful and meaningful to Jews. My mother, an avid genealogist, has made several “pilgrimages” to Salt Lake City to make use of the Mormon’s vast databases.

I am also inclined to concede Jacoby’s point that the Mormons who conduct these rituals are well meaning, nice people. Some of my best friends are Mormons. Really. (Though, I’ll admit it took my moving to Northern California from my Jewish bubble in New York to meet any.)

But it was the other item I read today that convinced me that I needed to not sweep baptism under the rug or follow Jacoby’s lead in thinking that it is just a benign phenomenon. That other item was a news story stating that the murdered journalist Daniel Pearl had also been posthumously baptized by the Mormons.

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© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

“Auschwitz Adjacent” On The Red Carpet

February 29, 2012

This post first appeared as “Joan Rivers Disses Angelina Jolie” on The Shmooze blog at the Forward.

Joan Rivers is known primarily for two things: her addiction to plastic surgery and her predilection for calling it like she sees it — on the red carpet and off. She’s in the news most recently for the latter, only in this instance she issued her commentary with even less tact than usual.

Rivers, like the rest of us, did not miss Angelina Jolie’s revealing display of leg on her way into the Academy Awards ceremony this past Sunday. That exposed appendage is now so famous that it has several of its own Twitter accounts. The first of them (with 39,410 followers) opened just a mere few minutes after we all got a glimpse of gam.

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© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Whitney Houston Had Israel Trip Planned

February 28, 2012

This post first appeared on The Shmooze blog at the Forward.

Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston with Ariel Sharon in Israel in 2003

For some people, that one last trip to Israel never takes place. That’s what happened to Whitney Houston, according to CBS’s “The Insider.”

AbbaNibi, the Israeli/Jewish cultural newswire reports that it was revealed on the gossip show last night that Houston had been planning a return trip to the Holy Land as a follow up to the time she spent there with her then-husband Bobby Brown. She apparently wanted to be baptized again in the Jordan River by the African Israelites (Black Hebrews). “The Insider” showed Houston’s goddaughter Brandi Burnside saying, “We planned to go to Israel together. She said to me, ‘We need to get into the holy waters, so that nothing can harm us.’”

Click here to read more.

© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.


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