A Time to Love: Remembering Blaze Bernstein
Hannah Enriquez & Kat Long - Staff Wirters
Blaze Bernstein. A brown haired, blue eyed boy with a witty sense of humor that has filled the hearts of many. He fed the world with his smile and exuded compassion onto everyone he met. Through countless art forms such as writing, music, and photography, Bernstein followed his passions as one of the members of the members of our family here at OCSA in the creative writing conservatory. His kind spirit shone through to all of his close friends and teachers.
Many within the OCSA community had the pleasure of knowing Blaze Bernstein, as he touched many hearts and brought constant laughter and smiles to those around him. A few OCSA students spent their childhood at Bernstein’s side, including former OCSA student Julia Wolfe (MT) who now attends Tarbut V’Torah. “One of my favorite memories of Blaze was going to a UC Santa Barbara family camp with him when we were kids. We raced pinewood derby cars,” Wolfe recalled. Having known Bernstein from childhood, to OCSA, and after, this was just one of the numerous memories Wolfe has collected over the years. She has also participated in furthering the “Do Good for Blaze” movement, created by Blaze’s parents, by helping those in need and spreading positivity within the Orange County community. “He was always a happy and outgoing kid, he had the ability to make jokes and make people smile even during the toughest of times,” Wolfe said.
Graduating in 2016, he continued his journey of success at the University of Pennsylvania. Inspired by the art of cooking and writing, he became involved with multiple literary magazines through the school known as Penn Review, Penn Appetit, and Whisk. He was surrounded with all of the love and light his family gave him as well as the Jewish community and the LGBTQ+ community. With an inquisitive, adventuring mind, he enjoyed the beauty of nature through the vast deserts of Utah to the glaciers and mountains of Iceland. The essence that defined Blaze was his love, his curiosity and his quiet affection. Anyone who encountered Blaze saw the endless attributes that were admired by so many.
Despite the fact that Bernstein graduated two years ago, many current OCSA students remember his presence and feel lucky to have known him throughout their OCSA careers. Junior Joey Sable (MT 19’) says, “I was really close with Blaze when I was 10, and we had started doing theater together. I remember him being super inclusive which made me feel super cool, because he hung out with me even though I was three years younger.” When talking to Sable about his memories with Bernstein, his face seemed to light up, revealing that his memories of Bernstein left a positive mark on his life. “I remember him coming to rehearsals and I saw what a high intellect he possessed, and how wise and open-minded he was at that young of an age.” Despite the tragedy of Bernstein’s passing, his friends and family have continued to show positivity and hopefulness in their lives. “I think he would want people to be happy during this difficult time,” Wolfe said, “and I hope he knew how much he was loved.”
The luminous support for Blaze and his family can be seen from communities all over Southern California manifesting most brightly in Borrego Park. Melted wax covers the park tables from candles burned to their end, along with cards, stuffed animals and prayers, all in a tremendous effort to bring comfort to family and friends visiting. But in addition to all of those kind gestures, there is one that lies especially close the Bernstein family: placing a stone. Truly exquisite artistry is displayed at the foot of each tree as colorful painted rocks bring support and love to the many people who visit. The act of placing a stone for a loved one is close to the hearts of the Bernstein family, as it is a Jewish tradition to show visitation, and to represent the permanence of a loved one’s memory.
Blaze, with his inspiring words, intelligence, and compassion will truly be missed. The memory of Blaze Bernstein will live for eternity in the minds of friends and family. If you knew Blaze, this is for you. If you simply heard his story, this is still for you. Keep remembering his compassionate soul by doing good. As the Bernstein family simply states, “Now is the time to set aside fear, ignorance, and judgement. It is time to love. Love each other. Be good. Do good and honor Blaze’s memory.”