On behalf of the Laurel School community, we express our deep sadness on the passing of Stanley Bernath on March 26.
Stanley visited our school numerous times and we learned about his experience during the Holocaust. However, our education expanded beyond this as Stanley also taught us how to be upstanders and to always look on the positive side. That’s because few people aided him during the Holocaust. He made sure we understood we must never act as bystanders when atrocities occur. Stanley did not let his horrific experience during the Holocaust define him. Instead, he used it as a motivation to spend the rest of his life helping others, whether it was volunteering at Menorah Park in Beachwood or being an active participant in Meals on Wheels. He also instilled his three values in us: do not give up, believe in yourself and remember you are not better than anyone else.
When Stanley came to talk to us, he never made his story sound as tragic as it really was. And he always pointed out the people who risked their lives to assist him along the way. We love how he was always able to see the good in everyone else. Because of the atrocities he endured, it would be easy to say those who carried them out were monsters or cruel people, but Stanley had no hate in his heart, only love. And we were blessed that he shared this love with us.
As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, it becomes even more important that we continue to share their stories so future generations will understand. We love that Stanley will live on in the hologram in the USC Shoah Foundation “Dimension in Testimony,” which will be exhibited at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood. The Laurel School community will also ensure that his legacy lives on and will continue to strengthen our Holocaust education curriculum.
Stanley, you always talked about how lucky you were. How lucky you were that you survived, that people risked their lives along the way to help, that you made it to the United States. You were very lucky, but we are also the lucky ones because you took the time to share your amazing self and your unforgettable story with the world.
Thank you, Stanley, for all you have done for the Laurel School community, the Greater Cleveland community, and for the Holocaust education of so many. We will miss you dearly. May your memory be a blessing.
Sophie Bravo is a junior and Hadass Galili is a senior at Laurel School in Shaker Heights.