48 Hours Story: Was Blaze Slain in the Name of Hate?

 Blaze Bernstein's parents Gideon and Jeanne Pepper Bernstein during an interview with 48 hours.

Blaze Bernstein's parents Gideon and Jeanne Pepper Bernstein during an interview with 48 hours.

 

This 48 Hours story explores how the murder of Blaze raises troubling questions concerning anti-Semitism and homophobia – issues at the heart of the nation's current struggle to define itself.


By Forty Eight Hours
Originally published at CBS News 11/10/18.
Produced by Jaime Stolz and Gayane Keshishyan Mendez


(CBS NEWS) - "Not again." Yes again. "Not again." 

This week in Thousand Oaks, California, a madman's bullets left at least a dozen dead. In America this has become a devastating ritual.

Two weeks ago it was Pittsburgh. Before that ParklandCharleston and Las Vegas. Some victims, linked by faith or the color of their skin. Others, simply in the wrong place at the worst possible time. 

"48 Hours" correspondent Tracy Smith has the story about one young man targeted by hate.

Meet Blaze Bernstein. He was 19 years old.

Word spread across Orange County. Blaze Bernstein, brilliant, kind-hearted, Jewish and gay, had come home from college for the holidays and vanished.

Jeanne Pepper Bernstein: He wanted to spend time with us. He's not gonna just disappear like that.

Tracy Smith: But your thought was?

Gideon Bernstein: Well it was just so highly unusual.

Jeanne Pepper Bernstein: Where had he been? Who had he gone with? We didn't know. Where is he?

 
  Blaze Bernstein with his parents Gideon and Jeanne Pepper Bernstein. "He liked to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary," Gideon said of his son.    GIDEON BERNSTEIN

Blaze Bernstein with his parents Gideon and Jeanne Pepper Bernstein. "He liked to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary," Gideon said of his son. GIDEON BERNSTEIN

 
 "I wish I could write like he wrote. I wish I could cook like he cooked," said Blaze's grandfather, Richard Bernstein. [ Blaze is pictured posing for the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Appétit magazine].   NOEL ZHANG

"I wish I could write like he wrote. I wish I could cook like he cooked," said Blaze's grandfather, Richard Bernstein. [Blaze is pictured posing for the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Appétit magazine]. NOEL ZHANG

 
 Blaze Bernstein and Raiah Rofsky  BERNSTEIN FAMILY

Blaze Bernstein and Raiah Rofsky BERNSTEIN FAMILY

 
 Leah and Richard Bernstein reminisce over photos of their beloved grandson, Blaze.  CBS NEWS

Leah and Richard Bernstein reminisce over photos of their beloved grandson, Blaze. CBS NEWS

 
 Jeanne and Gideon Bernstein are channeling their grief into kindness through #BlazeitForward and a memorial scholarship in Blaze's name.  CBS NEWS

Jeanne and Gideon Bernstein are channeling their grief into kindness through #BlazeitForward and a memorial scholarship in Blaze's name. CBS NEWS

 
 In Borrego Park, where Blaze Bernstein's light was extinguished, people from around the world leave stones in his memory.  BERNSTEIN FAMILY

In Borrego Park, where Blaze Bernstein's light was extinguished, people from around the world leave stones in his memory. BERNSTEIN FAMILY

 

From 2016 to 2017 there was a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic crimes in America.

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