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The Adventures of an English teacher in the Colegio Colombo Hebreo of Bogota!
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Let’s see, what else did we do besides singing?  Or study grammar?

The best pilots… in English class.

Alberto Merenfeld with Sergio Serna were the best pilots I ever had in English class.  As soon as I entered the class, they began to take off:  rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr changing gears in the process.  Soon they were flying high.  OK.  Can we start class now?

I am told that one day our famous Math professor, Nestor Bustos, walked into the classroom and to his surprise saw a marvelous game of catch with an invisible ball.  Alberto Merenfeld and others were quite athletic and made some amazing catches with this invisible ball.  Nestor watched for a minute or two, and then suddenly jumped into the game and up in the air, “caught” the ball, stuffed it into his pocket, and said, “Termino el juego!”.  GAME OVER.  Time to sit down and have class.

The Best Ballet Dancers…  in English class.

Denise Camhi and Silvia Lerner, besides being brilliant students, were the best ballet dancers I ever had in English class.  As soon as I entered the class they would proceed to do their stretching exercises against the blackboard. 

That was in Primero Bachillerato. 35 years later they are still in tip top shape as you can see!

The Best Basketball Players in English Class.

I don’t know exactly what inspired them, but as soon as I walked into one of my classes with the Class of 81, three future NBA players would walk out of the classroom and head to the basketball court:  Marcos Finkielstzein, Marcel Scholem, and David Stern.  Some say that Isaac Haber was part of the team.  We won't tell who told on them, but soon the original three were in Dr. Avella’s office and were suspended from school for two days! And they were not allowed to use the phone to talk to each other!  Imagine! 

David Stern explains: "That day in particular, we had a warning from another teacher telling us that if someone catches us again playing basketball during class time,we were going to be reported to the principal…..we did not believe that something like that could ever happen to us, so we paid no attention to the warning". 🤣

Let it be a lesson.


Victor Leff needed to hand in his notebook in order to pass English at the end of the year:  Notebook?  Victor never had a notebook.  Seriously. Never. He was one of the calmest and coolest people I have known.  No worry.  No stress. 

So, in order to pass English, he resourcefully photocopied somebody else’s notebooks and then pasted the pages into a new one.  Dear Lord.  Should I accept it?  What could I do?  What would you do? As somebody explained:  I was a visionary:   I didn’t want Victor to stay around the school for too many more years.  So I passed him and promoted him to the next level. (Or was that his senior year?)

The Best smiles… in English class.

I think that Victor Leff and Alberto Camhi were probably in cahoots.   But Alberto got through with his great smile.   He could smile his way in, through, and out of almost anything!  His cousin Ricky says that when Alberto was a boy he fell into some water, a lake, or something, and they all had to go running to pull him out.  And when they got to the water, there he was, smiling under the water.  You may draw your own conclusions.

Believe it or not, a chance meeting with Salo Sasson and Alberto Camhi in Manhattan during summer vacation!

Alberto is living proof of the fact that the Colegio Hebreo produces miracles.   In English class he did (almost) nothing, except smile.  But once he graduated, he went on to become top student in the Javeriana’s architecture department, getting 5’s on his models.  And now… a successful businessman and supporter of Israel and AIPAC in Miami.  See?  The CCH produces miracle students.  All of that potential is just biding its time, waiting to explode!  Just you wait and see.

David Rausch was another example of a great smile.  “David, where is your English book?”   “Book?” he asked.  “Book?”  “No book”.  “No book”.  And then he smiled. (Was he trying to say "Notebook?" or just "No book")?

Which reminds me.  The BEST CCH MOTHER’S AWARD goes to Norma Rausch.  She was amazingly faithful to visit the school EVERY WEEK.  Of course, she was there because Dr. Avella had asked her to come, to talk about one of her sons, whether David, or Steven, or Alan (may he rest in peace).   So Norma and I became good friends.  Always pleasant, kind and gentle, wringing her hands over some new problem at school.  No, no, no, pobrecita.

But if you couldn't win over your teacher with a smile, try an apple! Felipe Seidner would bring an apple for his English teacher quite frequently, not that an apple would affect his grades one way or another. He actually did well in English, (is my memory failing me?) and I have to admit: he also fit into the great smile category.


It wouldn’t be fair to mention only the students that expressed their emotional intelligence through mischievous inventions. 

I think I should also mention some of our brilliant scholars who dedicated time and energy to come out on top:  David Sprintis, Luis Brandwayn, Ivan Fischer, Monica Wolf, Marcel Scholem, Sharona Burstyn, Jany Awenstzern, Jessica Hanfling, Jack and Monica Goldstein, Raquel Coifmann, Becky Haya, Roberto Brandwayn, Eliana Lerner, Denise Birman, Perla Hanfling, Jeannette Akerman, Myriam Camhi, Jacques Simhon, to name a few.   Many went on to study and excell at universities in the States and elsewhere.  I am sure I have left somebody out!  Please forgive me. Send me an email and I will add your name! This book has not gone to press yet.

There were also those who became English teachers!  Jeannette Gleiser, Karen Sredni, Roberto Brandwayn and Lea Kishner.  Very proud of them.  I even hired Karen to come back and teach at the Hebrew School!

Best Piano Player

Then there this guy with an afro and a temper tantrum.  If he got upset his shouts could be heard across campus.  Livio Rosenberg was his name and he was an amazing pianist.  So, actually, he wanted to be kicked out of class and sent to the library where he convinced the librarian to let him play the piano.   Should we call that music class?

Remember! You can always be BEST! at something.