‘It reminded me of what happened to me’: Local Holocaust survivor reflects on Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

CLEVELAND-- Stanley Bernath looks at this latest tragedy fueled by hate through a different lens than most.

Bernath had 15 family members who did not survive the Holocaust.

“Innocent people in temple praying to God and they get killed; it’s a horrible thing,” said 92-year-old Holocaust survivor Stanley Bernath when asked to reflect on the mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh Saturday.

Bernath, himself, was in four different concentration camps and is a proud member of Cleveland’s Jewish community.

“It reminded me of what happened to me and six million others in my childhood; I always heard the dirty Jew, the Jew boy,” said Bernath.

Bernath saw countless people killed in concentration camps but says the murder of 11 fellow Jews and their families’ pain brought him to tears.

“It’s a terrible thing that happened and I don’t have the words to describe how they must feel. I don’t have the words for it,” he said.

Bernath says hate when left unchecked is extremely dangerous.

“I hope we learn from this experience -- that hatred is like a parasite invading your brain. It’s a disease. It’s a horrible thing,” Bernath said.

Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Jeremy Pappas went to Pittsburgh to give support to the community and the victims’ families.

“When you walk into those doors of a synagogue, of a congregation and you sit down with fellow communities around you there is a sense of security that you do have, and a sense of innocence and that was robbed from everyone,” Pappas said.

Bernath spends a majority of his time speaking at seminars and sharing his life story with kids and teens so that they know the terrible impact hate can have.

He says now more than ever his story and that of those killed in Pittsburgh needs to be told so that hate will not prevail.

“I will never stop as long as I live talking about it. That should never happen again. And no hatred! I teach that to people, no hatred and I live by that,” he said.

**Continuing coverage**