Salamo “The Ballet Dancer” Arouch

Salamo Arouch (1923 –2009) was a Jewish Greek boxer who became the Middleweight Champion of Greece in 1938 and the All-Balkans Middleweight Champion a year later. However, what was set to be a glittering career was cut short when in 1943, he and his family were transported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in present day Poland after Nazi Germany invaded Greece.

While there, he was forced to box two or three times a week for the entertainment of the Nazi officers with the losers being shot or sent to the gas chambers. Arouch fought around 208 times, winning all but two, both of which were fought while he recovered from dysentery and both ending in draws.

Top Picture – Arouch (centre) on the set of Triumph of the Spirit, the 1989 film of his life, with Willem Dafoe, left, and producer Arnold Kopelson. (Source:

Bottom Picture – Arouch in 1990 in a boxing gym in Bat Yam, Israel. (Source:

Israeli school builds cool classroom for ADHD teens - Bouncy chairs, distraction-free décor, walled-off workstations, desks on wheels and a living green wall provide a winning educational environment - 30 October 2015

Imagine the perfect classroom for kids with attention and learning disorders: bouncy chairs made from yoga balls, distraction-free décor, walled-off study/tutoring cubicles, desks on wheels and a touch of the outdoors.
Only there’s no need to imagine it. The unique “Yes I Can!” classroom at Darca High School in Kiryat Malachi opened this school year. And if it proves to be a good working model, the Darca network will implement this totally Israeli innovation in its other 24 high schools serving the socio-economic periphery of Israel.
“The students already report that it is much easier for them to study and concentrate in the new classroom, thanks to the clean design – no notice boards, posters, accessories, decorations etc., as in a regular classroom,” principal Michal Hazan tells ISRAEL21c.
“This helps to create a calm atmosphere and minimize distractions. The three enclosed workstations for individual study also help in isolating students from the noise made by their classmates, as well as from visual interferences.”
Architect Lior Ben-Sheetrit, 32, chose the design details and furnishings for the 60-square-meter room after extensively observing the 55 students and talking with them and their teachers about the difficulties they experience in a standard setting.
“For example, the students explained that it is very hard for them to sit on regular chairs and concentrate, while the teachers said that the students keep moving and shifting during classes,” says Hazan. “Thus, the chairs made of yoga balls within a frame were designed to channel the students’ energy and give it an outlet.”
Inspired by watching some of the kids playing the popular video game “Minecraft” — in which players break and build with blocks to create imaginative structures — the architect decided to incorporate simple geometric shapes and a “green wall” of vegetation to resemble the game’s environment.
Ben-Sheetrit was working with a ₪50,000 budget provided by donors including Israel’s Harel Insurance and Finance company, Kol Yisrael Haverim (KIAH) and the Rashi Foundation. The Darca network was established five years ago by the Rashi Foundation and KIAH with the support of the Education Ministry, joined in 2014 by the US-based Youth Renewal Fund.
“As a network, Darca joined forces in this project with Kol Yisrael Haverim and Harel Insurance company to experiment with different ways of dealing with challenges teachers face,” says Darca CEO Gil Pereg.

“It’s not about computers and walls, but about changing the way these kids see themselves.”

He explains that Darca takes over poorly performing schools and brings in new management and leadership from excellent schools throughout Israel to work with the existing staff. The 700-student junior-senior high school in Kiryat Malachi became part of the network two years ago.
“In Kiryat Malachi, we also built the kids a new library and we’ve added more teaching hours and STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] instruction, and new innovations like the Yes I Can! Classroom,” Pereg tells ISRAEL21c.
“Some of these ideas we find from other places around the globe, because we see ourselves as a laboratory for experimental solutions to the challenges of education in the 21st century. The [Yes I Can!] classroom is an example of Israeli design innovation, and in our Ashkelon and Bat Yam schools we’ve done something similar in the English language classrooms.”
However, he emphasizes, “In the end, it’s not about computers and walls, but about changing the way these kids see themselves,” noting that Darca schools are experiencing a huge rise in the number of students earning academic diplomas and considering higher education.
Pereg adds that Darca places an emphasis on involving parents in the educational journey. “What we do with the kids often has a direct effect on functioning of the entire family,” he says.
Hazan reports that parents of kids with ADHD and learning disabilities are “very excited both about the idea of creating a special class and about its beautiful realization.”
But nobody is as excited as the students themselves. “They greatly appreciate the efforts that were made for their benefit, and feel that the concept was developed with much respect for their needs and wishes and with the aim of creating a welcoming and aesthetic learning environment,” Hazan tells ISRAEL21c.

Israel, October 2007

Right, this is gonna be a long one! I’ll try and shut up and just show you a bunch of stuff from my trip to Israel….. so here goes!

After an insanely thorough frisking by Israeli El Al staff, we finally made it onto the plane!

Arrival in Tel Aviv. Here’s me with the head of Ben Gurion. And why not!

This is a photo of me with my Israeli cousin, Dani. We are in some trendy area of town, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it’s called now!

Now for the sights! Well, one of them. Had to visit Dizengoff Fountain and was disappointed to find it no longer did it’s music, light and water show. I had been to Tel Aviv many, many years ago and remember that display clearly! Ofra Haza was at the top of the charts in Israel back then and they were playing it at the fountain too.

A bear also has to relax, of course. For that purpose, we headed down to Bat Yam beach. Yes, it’s full of Russians but the sand is lovely and there isn’t a soul on the beach! Just glorious. I got my shirt off and built myself a shell-encrusted sun lounger. The good life!!

Here’s me on the way to Nazareth:

And once in Nazareth, we had to take in all the sights of course. Mainly, this meant a visit to the Church of Annunciation. Fun! Well, sort of…..

Ok. Then we also went to Jerusalem. Now, that was cool. So much to see, and so much amazing food there! And as for the sights…

Here’s me looking at the Wailing Wall…

And getting a really lovely panoramic view of the city and the Dome of the Rock. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go anywhere near it this time as it was Ramadan.

Oh yeah, and finally: I made a canine friend! What a trip…