The Baptism of Jews

By Jeffrey Page

Allow me to speak on behalf of Mr. Abraham Shubinsky, a man who traveled to the United States in 1909, not to escape his Judaism but to make distance between himself and groups of dangerous home-grown anti-Semites.

In a small town about 100 miles southwest of Kiev, he managed a mill and was subjected to verbal violence as a result of the combination of his faith and position.

He traveled alone to New York, got a job and saved money. In 1911 he had enough to send to his wife back in Ukraine so she and their two young daughters could join him in New York.

He was an orthodox Jew. He kept the Sabbath. He went to the synagogue. He kept the commandments. He and his wife kept a kosher kitchen. He presided over a crowded Seder every year at Passover. In America he would be safe.

So on behalf of Abraham Shubinsky – he died in 1961 – I, his grandson, do hereby renounce and reject any move by any member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to baptize him.

I don’t know if the Mormons – they have been reported several times to baptize dead Jews with whom they had no connection – ever got to my grandfather. The story doesn’t change; whenever it has been told, the baptizers feel saintly and Jews feel rage.

And now, Anne Frank and Daniel Pearl have been baptized by some individual Mormons with overheated senses of duty at churches in the Dominican Republic and in Idaho.

How dare they? Anne Frank spent two years hiding from the Nazis, then six months in Auschwitz where she died. Daniel Pearl was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal murdered by al-Qaeda in 2002.

The Mormons have no problem with posthumous baptism, though a letter from the leadership to Mormon churches throughout the world reiterates the official position that Mormons seek out members of their own families for posthumous baptism and refrain baptizing celebrities and victims of the Holocaust. So the people who baptized Anne Frank and Daniel Pearl ran counter to church doctrine.

Because baptism of dead Jews has occurred before, the letter is hardly reassuring to the relatives of Jews who died under gentler circumstances and who now could be selected for baptism after death.

Such baptism is a velvety form of anti-Semitism. The message to a dead Jew is: Your god failed you; ours would not. The message to living Jews is: See how much we love you? Enough that we would rescue you from the unhelpful clutches of Judaism.

Abraham Shubinsky, who died at 84, wouldn’t have bought it for a moment, and wouldn’t have chosen to spend eternity hanging out with Brigham Young and Joseph Smith. Nor would Anne Frank. Nor, I suspect, would the overwhelming majority of the 6 million other Jews who died in the Holocaust.

They suffered for their faith. We, their survivors, and other people of good will, suffer for their pain, for their lives cut short, for the lunatic ignorance that sent them to the camps, and for their terrible inability to rescue their children and parents, sisters and uncles, friends from the fires.

The Mormons should walk away and allow Jews to rest in peace.

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2 Responses to “The Baptism of Jews”

  1. Michael Kaufman Says:

    Thank you, Jeffrey….on my behalf of my late grandparents too.

  2. Jo Galante Cicale Says:

    very, very powerful! an important piece. You should submit this to print media.

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