Dear People and Friends of the Diocese of New Jersey,
He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.—Mark 8:23–25
I want to take a moment of personal privilege to give thanks for and to the medical team, as well as my wife Susan, for the extraordinary care I have received during the month of January as I underwent cataract surgery in both of my eyes. The surgery became necessary because I was having great difficulty driving at night. Dr. Lenka Champion of Champion Eye Care in and her staff were outstanding throughout this process. So, too, the staff at the Jacksonville Beach Surgery Center. The result has been beyond my expectations. I am now able to see well without glasses with 20/20 vision in one eye and 20/30 in the other. This latter number is especially remarkable as it refers to my left eye which, from the time I was a little boy, had a significant astigmatism and was never better than 20/50 with glasses! So I am thankful to all those who helped me, and to God who, by grace, has given people gifts of healing and knowledge that allow these kinds of modern day miracles to occur.
Thursday, January 27, was Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this date in 1945, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp was liberated by the Allied Forces. More than 1.1 million men, women, and children lost their lives at Auschwitz Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi death camps. Yom HaShoah is a national holiday in Israel. The United Nations calls upon all member nations to commemorate the day, stating:
Holocaust commemoration and education is a global imperative in the third decade of the 21st century. The writing of history and the act of remembering brings dignity and justice to those whom the perpetrators of the Holocaust intended to obliterate. Safeguarding the historical record, remembering the victims, challenging the distortion of history often expressed in contemporary antisemitism, are critical aspects of claiming justice after atrocity crimes.
The recent hostage situation at Beth Israel Reform Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, is a stark reminder that antisemitism and anti-Jewish sentiments—including “Holocaust denial”—are alive and well in the United States today and, in fact, around the world. The increasing acceptance of authoritarianism and authoritarian tendencies, including Christian Nationalism, exacerbates this.
Holocaust Remembrance Day is a reminder of humanity’s always latent potential for depraved cruelty, viciousness, and evil. I have long been drawn to the witness and writing of Holocaust survivor, author, and Noble Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel whose testimony over decades underscored the importance of historical memory as a vital check on present-day passions and prejudices. His insight on the value of historical memory spoken at the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. in 2003 offer wisdom that remains vitally true and invites us to hope.
What does one do with the memory of agony and suffering? Memory has its own language, its own texture, its own secret melody, its own archeology and its own limitations: it too can be wounded, stolen and shamed; but it is up to us to rescue it and save it from becoming cheap, banal, and sterile. To remember means to lend an ethical dimension to all endeavors and aspirations.
Today we remember so that we may not repeat.
Blessings and peace,
The Right Reverend William H. Stokes
Bishop of New Jersey
 United Nations website “Memory, Dignity and Justice” – found at https://www.un.org/en/
 See Petrequin, Samuel “E.U. leaders worried by rise in antisemitism and Holocaust Denial” Associated Press, January 26, 2022 reported by WHYY/PBS found at https://whyy.org/articles/e-u-leaders-worried-by-rise-in-antisemitism-holocaust-denial/
 “Elie Wiesel Days of Remembrance Excerpts – 2013” found on the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum at https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/elie-wiesel-days-of-remembrance-excerpts