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November 29, 2015 / 17 Kislev, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘baptism’

ITIM Advocates for Solitude in Israeli Mikvah’s Pool of Purifying Waters

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

The ITIM religious services organization is advocating for a change to Israel’s laws that would allow a woman to immerse herself alone, without an attendant at the public mikvah – the ritual pool of purifying waters – in communities across the country.

At present, the laws require an attendant to be present during a Jewish woman’s immersion in the pool in which she ends her time of ritual “impurity” and is able to resume physical contact with her husband. The attendant is there to bear witness that the woman has completely immersed herself as required under Jewish law — pronouncing “Kasher!” upon her emergence from the water — but also, frankly, as a safeguard as well.

The mikvah night experience is not a simple one for some women. The period of impurity, also called “niddah,” can last up to two weeks and is marked by the requirement that a husband and wife maintain separation in all material matters – meaning they cannot touch each other at all. It’s a difficult time for any couple although it does force people to learn to use new channels of communication, albeit sometimes with the aid of a couples coach. It often causes great emotional upheaval in both husband and wife as well. Mikvah night is often an event laced with anticipation, yes, but also trepidation as well, depending on the emotional and psychological background of the woman and also on what has been happening in the marriage.

The problem with which ITIM is currently wrestling has to do with the attendants employed by the local religious councils.

ITIM has reportedly received numerous complaints about attendants who take their responsibilities to an extreme degree, becoming overly zealous in their questioning or examinations prior to immersion.

For many women this can be intolerable; but for some it transforms what should be an act of joy into a nightmare of trauma upon trauma instead.

The organization has submitted a request to the Religious Services Ministry asking that women be allowed some flexibility to immerse without an attendant present in the room. To date, the ministry has yet to respond, according to ITIM.

When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu completes the process of forming a new government coalition, ITIM will also take up the task anew, of approaching the Religious Services Ministry on ways to soften the rules on mikvah.

According to a report in The Jerusalem Post, current ministry regulations state that mikvah attendants are forbidden from insisting on performing any checks or asking questions that women find intrusive or uncomfortable. The regulations also require attendants to respect the privacy of those who immerse, the ministry said, but it was not clear whether the presence of an attendant is still required.

For the record, it is the opinion of this writer that an attendant with any real sensitivity should be able to maintain a respectful presence – even at some distance – without being intrusive. If she can’t, she is in the wrong place and belongs elsewhere.

The presence of another woman in the room makes sense when dealing with fairly deep water and an emotional experience in which a woman must fully immerse herself in any case: there is a real safety issue here, no matter which way one looks at this issue, anxiety notwithstanding.

For women who are so traumatized by the experience that they cannot face the presence of another individual even to maintain safety while immersing, one might consider the option of professional help to deal with that extreme anxiety which is provoked by this kind of circumstance. Safety should always come first – pikuach nefesh — above and beyond all other considerations.

May we all merit an expansion and elevation of spirit with immersion in the pool of purifying waters.

Mormons Posthumously Baptized Anne Frank: New Claim

Friday, February 24th, 2012

The Toronto Star reported that researcher Helen Radkey, a former Mormon who revealed the Wiesenthal baptisms, said this week she found Anne Frank’s name in proxy baptism records dated Feb. 18, showing the ritual was performed in the Dominican Republic.

The new allegation came just a week after the LDS apologized for posthumously baptizing the parents of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in temples in Arizona and Utah last January.

The Mormon church immediately issued a statement which did not mention Frank by name.

“The church keeps its word and is absolutely firm in its commitment to not accept the names of Holocaust victims for proxy baptism,” the Salt Lake City-based church said. “It is distressing when an individual willfully violates the church’s policy and something that should be understood to be an offering based on love and respect becomes a source of contention.”

Secret Posthumous Mormon Baptism of Holocaust Victims, Jewish Leaders

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

The secret posthumous baptism of key Jewish figures by the Mormon church has caused outrage in the Jewish community and led to an apology by Mormon leaders.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center condemned the Mormon church for performing baptismal rites on the parents of Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter Wiesenthal’s parents, Asher and Rosa Rapp Wiesenthal, according to the Associated Press. The baptisms took place in late January at temples in Arizona and Utah.

The proxy ceremonies are believed by Mormons to allow the deceased into the afterlife by giving them the Gospel.  Names are submitted by Mormon Church members, and are then given baptisms without their presence, or the presence or even notification of their families.

After Jewish groups protested the practice of baptizing members of their faith without their consent or the consent of the families of the deceased, the Mormon Church issued a promise in 1995 not to continue the practice.

Yet records indicate Wiesenthal’s parents, Asher and Rosa Rapp Wiesenthal, were baptized in proxy ceremonies performed by Mormon church members at temples in Arizona and Utah in late January.

The Mormon Church has baptized many figures involved in the Holocaust – and not just Jewish victims, such as Anne Frank.  Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun were also baptized by the Church in separate ceremonies decades apart, with Hitler being “bound” to his parents in a ceremony in 1993.

Other Jewish figures, such as the great Jewish sage and scholar Mamonides (Rambam), Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein, and author Elie Wiesel have also been baptized, as well as hundreds of Holocaust victims.

“We are outraged that such insensitive actions continue in the Mormon temples,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said in a statement by the Associated Press.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints replied with an apology in a statement issued Monday.  “We sincerely regret that the actions of an individual member of the church led to the inappropriate submission of these names [of Wiesenthal’s parents],” Micharel Purdy, spokesman for the Church said.  “We consider this a serious breach of our protocol and we have suspended indefinitely this person’s ability to access our genealogy records.’’

The discovery of many posthumous baptisms has been conducted by Helen Radkey, a former Mormon who has dedicated herself to uncovering this practice and the specific individuals who have been baptized.  She also found that the family members of several US political figures – the mother of President Barack Obama and the atheist father of presidential candidate Mitt Romeny – had undergone the ritual.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/secret-posthumous-mormon-baptism-of-holocaust-victims-jewish-leaders-sparks-outrage/2012/02/15/

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