As a result of these and other conversations between Mormon and Jewish leaders, a historic breakthrough was achieved.
Last month, LDS leaders acknowledged that the church's practice of proxy baptism had "unintentionally caused pain" because of the inclusion of Holocaust victims in the religious rite. They announced that a new computer systems and policies have been put in place that should prevent the names of Holocaust victims from being included in LDS lists for proxy baptisms. Under the new church policies, Mormons will be required to certify names submitted to the church's genealogical database for baptism. Additional safeguards include monitoring those names for submissions that don't meet policy standards, and the removal of unacceptable names.
This action will be felt around the world and will help eliminate a festering source of tension between the Mormon and Jewish communities, strengthening our ability to cooperate on important issues in the United States and across the globe.
It will enhance the already sterling relationship between the LDS Church and the State of Israel, where thousands of young Mormon college students study every year at the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies.
We sincerely appreciate and applaud the leadership of the Mormon Church for demonstrating such extraordinary sensitivity on the Holocaust baptism issue. Together we are proving that open and honest dialogue can indeed lead us to greater understanding and a better, more respectful world for us, and our children.
Abraham H. Foxman is the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League. His books include "The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control" and the forthcoming "Jews and Money: The Story of a Stereotype" (Palgrave Macmillan, November 2010).
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