“Open Strong” Exercise

Essay in need of a Strong Opening

Anne Frank, the Jewish girl whose diary and death in a Nazi concentration camp made her a symbol of the Holocaust, was allegedly baptized posthumously Saturday by a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to whistleblower Helen Radkey, a former member of the church. The ritual was conducted in a Mormon temple in the Dominican Republic, according to Radkey, a Salt Lake City researcher who investigates such incidents, which violate a 2010 pact between the Mormon Church and Jewish leaders.

Radkey discovered that Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank, who died at Bergen Belsen death camp in 1945 at age 15, was baptized by proxy on Saturday. Mormons have submitted versions of her name at least a dozen times for proxy rites and carried out the ritual at least nine times from 1989 to 1999. This time, Frank’s name was discovered in a database that can be used for proxy baptism — a separate process, according to a spokesman for the church. The database is open only to Mormons.

A screen shot of the database shows a page for Frank stating “completed” next to categories labeled “Baptism” and “Confirmation,” with the date Feb. 18, 2012, and the name of the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple.

Mormon posthumous proxy baptisms for Holocaust victims or Jews who are not direct descendants of Mormons has continued, despite church vows to stop such practices. Negotiations between Mormon and Jewish leaders led to a 1995 agreement for the church to stop the posthumous baptism of all Jews, except in the case of direct ancestors of Mormons, but some Mormons have failed to adhere to the agreement.

The name of Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel was recently submitted to the restricted genealogy website as “ready” for posthumous proxy baptism, though the church says the rite is reserved for the deceased, and Wiesel is alive. Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, was among a group of Jewish leaders who campaigned against the practice and prompted the 2010 pact by which the Mormon Church promises to at least prevent proxy baptism requests for Holocaust victims.

Wiesel last week called on Republican presidential candidate and Mormon Mitt Romney, a former Mormon bishop who has donated millions to the church, to speak out about the practice. The Romney campaign did not immediately reply.  The Frank case follows closely on an apology from the Mormon Church last week for recent posthumous baptisms of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal’s parents.

The latest baptism of Frank by proxy is especially egregious because she was an unmarried teenager who left no descendants. Mormon officials have stressed that in accordance with the agreements, church members are supposed to submit only the names of their own ancestors.

“The security of the names submissions process for posthumous rites must be questioned, in view of the rash of prominent Jewish Holocaust names that have recently appeared on Mormon temple rolls,” Radkey said about her latest find. “This one sailed straight through, with Anne’s correct name in their ‘secure’ database.”

Radkey said she expects, once word gets out, that church officials will scrub the records as they did with Wiesel and Weisenthal’s parents. The Mormon Church responded later Tuesday in a statement: “The Church keeps its word and is absolutely firm in its commitment to not accept the names of Holocaust victims for proxy baptism. While no system is foolproof in preventing the handful of individuals who are determined to falsify submissions we are committed to taking action against individual abusers who willfully violate the Church’s policy. Ritual baptism should be understood to be an offering based on love and respect; we regret when it becomes a source of contention.”

Exercise Specifics

In the Reply field below this post, write your strongest Opening Paragraph.

Your paragraph must contain a thesis sentence that clearly and boldly proclaims the claim you promise readers you will prove.

In addition, your Opening Paragraph:

  1. Will make strong, perhaps paradoxical claims.
  2. Will sum up a very strong argument your essay will make.
  3. Will NOT LOSE the argument.
  4. Will itself be an arugment.
  5. Will be memorable.
  6. Will be debatable, demonstatable, illustratable.
  7. Will be a good example of itself.

Well, maybe it won’t accomplish all 7 goals, but the more the better!

You have until the end of the period to write your best first draft.

Author: davidbdale

Inventor of and sole practitioner of 299-word Very Short Novels. www.davidbdale.wordpress.com

8 thoughts on ““Open Strong” Exercise”

  1. There is hardly a soul alive that has not heard of the tragic story of Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank, the young girl that suffered a horrific fate at the hands of the Nazis in Germany at the time of the Holocaust; less renowned, however, are the numerous attempts to posthumously baptize her. These attempts have violated pacts made throughout the years between the Mormon church and Jewish leaders.


    1. Nice work, DK9, simple claims, matter-of-fact delivery, let the absurdity speak for itself. I would recommend, though, that like any good comedian, you speak the punchline last: not “the Mormon church and Jewish leaders,” but “Jewish leaders and the Mormon church.”

      Two quibbles if I may, since you’re already quite accomplished. Eliminate “there is” and “it is” language whenever you can (You almost always can.).

      Hardly a soul alive has not heard

      Also, when speaking of persons, use who instead of that.

      the young girl who suffered a horrific fate


  2. There is not a single person who does not know the tragedy of the prestigious diary writer, Anne Frank. Anne suffered death at a concentration camp to the Nazi’s like millions of other people. The reason she is brought up today, is because of her baptism status. Arguments still spark today between the Mormons and the Jewish about the current state of her baptism. The Mormons have conducted many baptisms by proxy to Anne but as we all know the Jews do not believe in baptism. Now the argument arises; what is Anne Frank really? She is a Jew as we all know but, have the Mormons crossed the line?


    1. AA, I’m going to reorganize the material in your Reply a bit to guide your readers more effectively toward your conclusion. I hope that in comparing the two versions you’ll see you’ve taken a very indirect path in your paragraph. I apologize if this seems intrusive.

      Mormons must know something about Anne Frank that nobody else knows. The prestigious diary writer who suffered death at the hands of the Nazi’s like millions of other Jews would surely have shunned baptism. Nonetheless, purportedly well-meaning Mormons have repeatedly conducted baptisms by proxy in her name.

      Do you find this helpful? Will it help you find a straighter path next time?
      I thrive on interaction, AA.
      If you respond, I’ll quickly learn that you appreciate feedback.


  3. A Mormon Temple in the Dominican Republic posthumously baptized Anne Frank, despite that violating a pact made in 2010 between the Mormon Church and Jewish leaders. Helen Radkey, a former member of the Mormon church, was doing research, and found that Frank was baptized by proxy on Saturday. Mormons have submitted versions of her name at least a dozen times for proxy rites and carried out the ritual at least nine times from 1989 to 1999. This is just one example of how the Mormons try to have proxy baptisms for Holocaust victims or Jews who are not direct descendants of Mormons, despite church vows to stop such practices.


    1. This is fine, Knuckles, but I wonder. I’ve read a few of these now, and I’m just going to toss out an opening sentence that I think would guarantee the reading of the second sentence.

      Anne Frank was baptized Saturday.

      I mean, you really can’t lose with that opener, can you? Sometimes, when there are lots of details, names, dates, a cast of characters to introduce, the best approach is to set the hook very fast and very deep to buy some time. Readers will be much more patient with the backstory once they know what they’re getting. An explanation for how a dead Jew gets baptized by Mormons generations after her death is worth a few sentences of additional reading.

      Pay in advance, in other words, if you need prolonged attention to what follows.


  4. By the time somebody goes through middle school, they will most likely have heard of Anne Frank. Anne Frank is a famous diarist who also was a Jewish victim of the Holocaust. In recent years, Anne Frank was baptized by the Mormon Church multiple times. This violated a pact made between the Mormon Church and Jewish leaders. Given that Anne Frank was Jewish and baptism is not something she believed in, how unethical does that make this act?


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