Gary Mokotoff, with approval of Rabbi Stern, writes to Elder J. Richard Clarke, protesting proxy baptism of Jewish Holocaust victims.

Gary Mokotoff

Gary Mokotoff, "The Mormon/Jewish Controversy: What Really Happened," AVOTAYNU, Summer 1995 (reprint)

Gary Mokotoff
J. Richard Clarke, David Mayfield, Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern, Gary Mokotoff
Reading Public

Given the negative reaction by Mayfield to my protest a year earlier, I decided that a person higher on the ladder had to be contacted and made the decision to write to the elder of the Church who was in charge of the Family History Department, J. Richard Clarke. I called Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern to make him aware of the Gedenkbuch extraction and my plans to write to Elder Clarke. Rabbi Stern was dismayed at the Mormon's actions and agreed that a letter should be written. Prior to sending the letter, I showed it to Rabbi Stern who approved of its contents. The now-famous letter, which was published in the Spring 1994 issue of AVOTAYNU, nine months after it was sent to Clarke, stated:

Dear Elder Clarke:

It has come to my attention that well-intentioned LDS members are baptizing Jewish victims of the Holocaust into the Mormon faith. It shows incredible insensitivity to the anguish of the living relatives of these martyrs, some of whom saw their loved ones murdered, to perform a Christian ritual on people who were killed for only one reason; they were Jews.

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. There are many Christians living today who can trace their family history back to people who chose option one. Our Jewish history books are filled with martyrs who chose option two.

I have been told that the LDS church does not support this policy; that it is the act of individuals. But the fact that the ritual is performed in a Mormon Temple is tantamount to condoning this practice.

At present, this practice is known to only a few Jewish-American genealogists who noticed the entries in the International Genealogical Index. Once the Jewish world community is aware of the practice, it will seriously strain relations between Mormons and Jews.

Copyright © B. H. Roberts Foundation
The B. H. Roberts Foundation is not owned by, operated by, or affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.