An woman overcome with emotion leaves the University Synagogue following the memorial service for Blaze Bernstein in Irvine on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)Friends and family of the Bernstein family gather outside the University Synagogue in Irvine on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 following the memorial service for Blaze Bernstein. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)A family embraces outside the University Synagogue following the memorial service for Blaze Bernstein in Irvine on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)Show Caption of Expand
IRVINE – Innovative. Creative. Inspiring. Brilliant.
These words were echoed as 850 family members, friends and others remembered 19-year old Blaze Bernstein in a standing-room-only memorial service at University Synagogue on Monday, Jan. 15.
Those who spoke described Bernstein’s gift as a writer, his love of food and cooking, his humor and his never-ending ability to inspire others by simply helping them find the value within themselves.
They read excerpts from his writings. His last recipe card – a rum-pineapple upside-down cake he made for his family on New Year’s Eve – was copied and handed to those in attendance with mini spatulas.
Video: Hundreds attend memorial service for Blaze Bernstein
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A sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania on winter break, his body was discovered by Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputies in a shallow grave just outside a Lake Forest park on Tuesday, Jan. 9. On Friday, a high school classmate of Bernstein’s was arrested on suspicion of homicide.
Blaze was set to combine two of his passions by becoming managing editor of Penn Appetit, a student-run food magazine.
Some said he saw things others did not, and he worked tirelessly to make the world better.
“It was beautiful,” said Bob Metzler, a friend of the family through Bernstein’s mom, about the service. “He was a brilliant kid. It’s a major loss to the literary world.”
Younger siblings Jay and Beaue read a letter they wrote to their brother. Beaue said the kitchen was Blaze’s happy place, and that he would always tell her to fight for what she believed in and to never give up.
Lily Williams, a close friend of Bernstein’s at the Orange County School of the Arts, a high school in Santa Ana, told the audience he was one of the most prolific, powerful writers she knew.
“He was a once-in-a-lifetime friend to me,” she said. “He was an advocate for me, to me. … He made me realize my value.”
Rabbi Arnold Rachlis opened the service by reading an excerpt from one of Blaze’s writings, “Picking Marbles from Dirt,” which was featured in the Penn Review Literary Magazine:
“Maybe if the gears in my head didn’t turn so fast and the words didn’t pile up on the paper like snow on mountaintops, it wouldn’t take me so long to finish a story. But then again, it wouldn’t be something I had written, because the stories that I finish are never actually done.”
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Rachlis, also a University of Pennsylvania graduate, shared a memory in which Blaze saw the rabbi’s diploma on the wall in his office and said, “Soon, I’ll have one too.”
“Blaze, your story in our hearts will never be done,” Rachlis told the audience.
There was a video montage of Bernstein, and a message to continue to do good deeds to make the world a better place.
“Blaze was on a path to repair our world, and it is a moral imperative that we all take steps now to make sure that his dream is realized,” the family said in a statement prior to the service.
Source: Oc Register