Friday, December 25, 2009

End Posthumous Conversion - Another musical response to Senator Hatch

As I mentioned on Tuesday (Conan O'Brian (and Jewschool's) response to Senator Hatch's Chanukah Song) and last week (Chanukah music: A response to Jeffery Goldberg & Senator Orin Hatch), there's been a lot of buzz around Senator Hatch's Chanukah song. While most commentary has been positive or a little bemused, there has been some negative remarks. For example, here's a comment I got on Facebook...

"The Mormons have terrible history of being ant-Semitic. Even in modern times, they have proven themselves to be a group of people that want nothing more than to convert Jews to Mormonism. Twice since WWII, Mormons have been caught trying to convert the Jews that had died at the hands of the Nazis. I so wish this was not true, but the most recent occurrence of this bit of doing happened in and around 1996 or 1997. Sorry Orin Hatch, I do not trust you."

This being a music blog, I was delighted when my friend Binyomin Gizberg, of and the Breslov Bar Band followed up on this thought with a musical response.....
"We covered Senator Hatch's song at our Chanuka concert @ Banjo Jim's. I wrote an additional verse for it. Hey, if Sen. Hatch can write a song telling Jews how to celebrate Hanukkah, then it's fair for me to write a verse telling Mormons to stop posthumously baptizing Jews who died in the Holocaust."

The 3rd verse:

The Macabees fought many years ago
for the right to observe our religion.
Today we fight the Mormon Church
saying: "end posthumous conversion!"

Senator Hatch, tell your church
to do what's just and right.
Let our dead rest in peace!
(and remember why Macabees fight!)"
So there.


Dovid said...

How is the supposed "conversion" of the souls of deceased Jews impinging on freedom of religion for Jews?

Indeed, shouldn't the "right to observe" one's religion apply to the Mormons? If they're into "converting" the souls of deceased Jews, all the best to them. It doesn't affect me or my co-religionists.

(Maybe, when we say in Aleynu "Then all of humanity will call Your Name" we're offending Hindus, Buddhists etc.)

Tachlis: members of the current Church of Latter Day Saints are upstanding citizens and great supporters of the Jewish State of Israel.

(the House Defender of Mormons on the Teruah Blog :-)

Jack said...

Hi Dovid. You raise a good point, but one that is controversial. The fact that Mormons support Israel isn't compelling evidence of anything. Some of the most aggressive Evangelical Christians, who work day and night to convert Jews to Christianity are also supporters of Israel, but not for any reason I respect.

Should we honor their right to observe their religion when it involves something as intangible as converting our murdered family members without their permission? Well, it's hard to argue that it hurts anyone in any practical sense. We certainly don't think God cares at all about the Mormon ceremony. On the other hand it is viewed by many Jews as a deliberate desecration, which is something very hard to take lightly.

Is the Mormon wish that everyone become Mormon different than the Jewish wish that everyone honor God? That's a hard question too. Jews certainly don't believe that everyone should be Jewish, a stance quite different than the Christian and Mormon stance. That said, it reasonable for a Christian or Mormon to be annoyed at the Alenu? I suppose so. Personally, I think there is a difference between a cherished belief and then deliberate action. But I could accept it if you don't.

I think this is an area that different reasonable people will come to different conclusions about.

Anonymous said...

Fancy blog you've got here, Jack! A house defender of Mormons? What other house defenders do you have and how can I get one?

Dovid, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I never said that posthumous conversion impinges on freedom of religion for Jews. That's a straw man.

Many of our ancestors gave their lives rather than abandon their faith. Others were killed because of their connection to that faith. What the Mormon Church is doing is tremendously disrespectful to that sacrifice. The fact that we don't believe these conversions are effective is not relevant.

Have you reads about the history of this scandal? In addition to the posthumous conversions, there is the additional issue of the Mormon Church reneging on its promise to Holocaust survivors to end the practice.

It's not as though this is a long-standing tradition either. The entire Mormon faith is a relatively recent creation. The LDS Church leadership could easily resolve this if they were so inclined.


David said...


Earlier this year, I read three books that dealt with Jewish jazz musicians who died in the Holocaust, it was all very interesting reading. Jazz was a very sensitive subject in the Third Reich because everyone loved the music, and yet, it was condemned by the German officials. The German officials condemning jazz, would sneak out to a club and listen to jazz. Go figure.

My Point? I am not sure. My brain began to think of the Jewish jazz musicians after I read your letter. I play a lot of jazz so I think about the music a great deal. I also play klezmer, so I walk in many different circles.

Why would anyone want to convert a dead person to another religion? Especially someone who died at the hands of those vile monsters. Mormons should really give their fanaticism a break and stop trying to destroy one's desire to believe in what they want to believe. Earlier this year, the Mormons bankrolled that proposition in California that prevented same-sex marriage. LDS is going a bit to far trying to control peoples lives.

Be well.



Dovid said...


First, my apologies, I must have channeled that 'religious freedom' thought from another conversation or blog. I do think, however, that to ask Mormons not to “convert” the souls of Jews in the next world is impinging on their religious freedom. I pray that in the end of days the descendants of non-Jews will make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to God. That is probably offensive to the faith of lots of people out there, but that’s what I pray for, and I don’t want anyone editing my prayerbook.

Mormons are not deceptively targeting vulnerable living Jews as Jews for J does. Mormons are mumbling prayers and then declaring that some dead Jewish person's soul has accepted their God. And then they go and stand with living Jews who are being attacked, whether it be by live mortars or in diplomatic circles the world over, putting their efforts, money and bodies where their beliefs are.

Just as an fyi- I have no love of deceptive Christian missionaries that prey Jews that are easy marks. I did ‘counter-missionary’ work for several years, including handing out information while standing next to Jewish for J’s in the NYC subways during their summer campaigns. I’ve been called all kinds of nasty things by them, even got body slammed by one of them.

I don’t believe everything I read, but polls do show that Evangelicals support Israel because they identify with Israel’s Biblical cause/mission statement – to be a moral light to the world, and not because they are trying to get a certain number of Jews to Israel so the apocalypse can occur.

But, I’ll go along with Jack- I can understand your concern.

And I still think that the Senator’s Chanukah song was quite good.