March 8, 2012
Letters to the Editor: Mormon proxy baptisms, Purim cover, UCLA Hillel
Mormon Church Clarifies Proxy Baptism Stance
As members of a committee that is actively engaged in outreach with the Los Angeles Jewish community, we enjoy reading articles in The Jewish Journal that accurately profile other religious faiths. We have always had very positive interactions with the paper’s editor-in-chief and managing editor, and applaud the Journal for hosting an online blog on Jews and Mormons.
When we saw Mr. Greenberg’s recent cartoon, “The Church of Latter-Day Aints,” in the March 2 issue, we naturally felt a desire to clarify the LDS Church’s position on this matter. The image shows a man standing in a “Mormon baptismal font” holding down a tombstone engraved with a Star of David and the words “Holocaust Victims.” Thankfully, Mr. Greenberg was kind enough to send a note to a member of our committee with the following admission: “I should have worded it differently so as not to involve the entire church, just elements of it.”
As informed readers know, the LDS Church agrees that names of Jewish Holocaust victims should not be submitted for temple ordinances except by their direct descendants who have joined the church (a small group, to be sure). Just last Sunday, a letter signed by the top three leaders of the church was read to every Mormon congregation in the world. It reminded members of the policy on Holocaust name submissions, and listed possible sanctions that could be imposed on violators of the policy. There has never been more than a minyan of Mormons worldwide who choose to violate this rule; 99.999999 percent of the 14 million Mormons living in 167 countries across the world honor the memory of Jewish Holocaust victims in the way that our Jewish friends have asked of us.
We appreciate this opportunity to seek clarification on an important issue, and look forward to working with our Jewish friends and neighbors to preserve and strengthen the strong ties that bind our communities.
Jewish Relations Committee
Purim Spoof Cover Brings Comments
This past Friday, I picked up a copy of the March 2 Purim issue of your magazine while I was leaving temple. I could tell at a quick glance as I walked to my car that it was clearly a spoof.
It wasn’t until I was reading the issue this morning that I noticed this caption on the cover of the magazine, “Unemployment Rate Soars for Iranian Nuclear Scientists” above a photo of a car bombing.
Even to an outside observer I would have to believe that this “joke” was blatantly irresponsible, or at the very least incredibly insensitive, to say nothing of it being openly antagonistic to the Muslim community. In short, you were way out of line.
Furthermore, I would be willing to bet that if a similar “joke” about Jews would have appeared on the cover of The Muslim Weekly, the Jewish community would have been highly outraged and deeply offended.
You have a responsibility to the community of Jews that you represent — as well as a responsibility of fostering a better relationship with the Muslims that also live in our community.
Regarding your Purim cover, I notice that you included Sherman, Berman, Herman, Herman … but not the Republican candidate Mark Reed. I realize the play on words, but the absence of Mr. Reed is mystifying.
UCLA Hillel Has Active and Diverse Membership
With regard to The Jewish Journal’s article “Finding Their Place” (Feb. 22), and as the president of the Hillel at UCLA student body, I am disappointed that our Hillel’s efforts to create an all-inclusive, accessible environment for Jews of all abilities was greatly overlooked.
Many of the young adults who were written about in this article are participants of or have graduated from the Pathways program at UCLA. While at UCLA, Hillel has served as their primary Jewish community. Hillel is a place that takes pride in its diverse Jewish student population and where any Jew can seek enrichment of their spiritual, cultural and intellectual Jewish self. Students with disabilities are among those who regularly join in and enrich our Hillel’s weekly Shabbat services and dinner among other activities.
Many individuals, such as the typical college student, don’t make time for services or Shabbat in their week, but these young adults with disabilities make it a priority to come to Hillel and participate in Jewish life. Their dedication is refreshing and admirable, and it’s also a testament to their self-determination and independence. Their participation in Jewish life at UCLA is constantly rewarding for them as well as for the rest of the Hillel community.
We welcome all members of the community to visit our Hillel and see what we’re all about, both on campus and beyond.