A chat with Aunt Ruthie — kvetching from the sweet hereafter

    Aunt Ruthie just called. She’s been dead for more than 20 years, mind you, but she can’t seem to rest in peace.

    No sooner had we laid her to rest when “some crazy Mormon was trying to convert me. Me, a Jew from Shamokin, Pennsylvania!” she kvetched into my cell phone.

    “Some shmuck from Utah has been rattling my coffin endlessly, telling me that G-d came from another planet, and that he had multiple wives, and that I need to convert to become a Later Day Saint!”

    “Ruthie, calm down. You’re talking like a crazy person,” I said.

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    “That’s what he told me!” she said. “I’m just repeating it!”

    During my can-you-hear-me-now? séance with my aunt, I learned that for decades the Mormon Church has been practicing posthumous baptisms, so that the deceased can receive the Gospel in the afterlife.

    “The afterlife?” I said. “Are we talking Mormons or ancient Egyptians?”

    “Pay attention, Alan,” she said. “I only have so many minutes on this thing. This person told me Mormons believe that departed souls can be converted if they accept their baptismal rites after death.”

    I Googled as we talked and learned from a recent Washington Post story that Mormon Church leaders had just issued an apology to the family of Simon Wiesenthal, the Holocaust survivor and Jewish rights advocate, after his parents were posthumously baptized. Clearly the baptizers sometimes pick the wrong souls to go after, the tenacious Nazi hunter’s kin and my equally ardent aunt.

    “It’s offensive that anyone try to convert me after I die. And crazy. Mishugina!”

    What could I say? She had a point.

    “And who’s this guy he wants me to vote for? Who’s this Mitt Romney?”

    I explained that Romney is running (and running) to become the Republican candidate for president of the United States, and that he’s a Mormon.

    “Mitt? What the hell kind of name is Mitt?” she said. “And what’s his platform?” What does he stand for?”

    I thought about that for a second. Then I said, “Never mind. We don’t have all day.”

    “Look,” she said, “I lived as a Jew. I died as a Jew. Nothing against Mormons, but I had no desire to be one back then, or now in the hereafter.

    “But do you know what I’d really like?” she said. “That musical. The one in New York. Do you think you could get a me a couple of tickets?”

    Alan Sharavsky’s humor essays appear occasionally on NewsWorks. He is the president of Sharavsky Communications, a creative development and marketing firm. He’s also director of development for Broderville Pictures, a video production company.

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