Blaze Bernstein


We were devastated and heartbroken to learn of the death of Blaze Bernstein, a member of Penn's Class of 2020, who was the newly-elected managing editor of Penn Appétit, a copy associate for Penn Review, and a member of the Hub (our planning committee).

Blaze was known for cooking in the KWH kitchen until staff members had to remind him gently that it was time to close, although they were reluctant to do so because what he was making always smelled so good. He shared his cranberry upside down cake with us for Writers House Thanksgiving, and made a potted dirt cake (adorned with freshly picked mint!) to pay tribute to Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth at our annual Edible Books Party.

Fellow members of The Penn Review remember Blaze as an opinionated critic whose sharp edits were always anchored by kindness and compassion, especially when he was working with new writers. He was extremely excited for Penn Appétit's forthcoming cookbook project, Whisk, for which he had been developing recipes.

At Blaze's memorial service in Orange County, CA, his academic advisor, our associate director for recruitment Jamie-Lee Josselyn, described meeting Blaze at his high school, the Orange County School of the Arts, in the fall of his senior year, and how struck she had been by his writing. Once at Penn, Blaze thought deeply and rigorously about what he wanted from his undergraduate experience, about pedagogy, and about balancing his love for the sciences with his love for the humanities. Jamie-Lee concluded:

As a writer and teacher myself, I can't help but think about how Blaze's name is a verb. And not just any verb, one that means 'to burn fiercely or brightly.' That was Blaze. He was active, not passive. He was never complacent. He was funny and sassy. He made it clear when he thought things could be better [...] May his memory be a blessing and may his memory burn fiercely and brightly in all of us.

Blaze Bernstein Memorial Fund

We at the Writers House are committed to preserving and honoring Blaze’s legacy. In partnership with his family, we are proud to honor this extraordinary young writer by establishing the Blaze Bernstein Memorial Fund, which will support young writers affiliated with KWH in perpetuity.

In honor of Blaze's talent and drive, the Blaze Bernstein Memorial Fund supports students who are developing their own writing careers. Each year, the Blaze Fund will provide a stipend to a Penn student undertaking an otherwise unpaid summer internship in a creative field. Support from this fund will ensure that students selected for this annual internship will be able to pursue these enriching career opportunities without worrying about whether they can afford such an endeavor. Preference will be for students pursuing internships in Southern California, where Blaze grew up and first cultivated his own love of writing.

Funds raised in Blaze's memory above and beyond the cost of a summer stipend will be used to support community-oriented programs at Kelly Writers House that center on writing and food, two of Blaze's great loves.

To help us "Blaze it forward" for generations of Penn students, you can make a tax-deductible contribution of any size to the Blaze Bernstein Memorial Fund by clicking below. We'll list your name on this site as a Friend of Blaze, as well as a Friend of the Writers House.

Click on the button above or here to go to a secure site for donating to the Blaze Bernstein Memorial Fund. If you would prefer to write a check, please make your check payable to "Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania" and be sure to jot "Blaze Bernstein Memorial Fund / KWH" on the memo line. You can mail checks to us at:

The Kelly Writers House
3805 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6150
Attention: Jessica Lowenthal, Director

For assistance or to ask for more information, please feel free to call us at (215) 746-POEM.