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Family of boy killed on Yom Kippur raise funds for ‘robot firefighter’ project

14 11 14

Big ideas and undiminished dreams were a huge part of 12-year-old Barak Houry’s short life. He was a musician, an artist, a competitive swimmer, an avid knitter and sewer, and over the past year, a self-taught amateur coder, electronics technician, and robotics engineer.

After he was killed by an alleged drunk driver while riding his bike last week on Yom Kippur, his family launched a fundraising campaign to bring to life the project he was working on for the past year — an automated fire-fighting robot that can detect fires and extinguish them, saving human lives in the process.

The pre-teen, just a month shy of his bar mitzvah when he was killed, was immersed in a variety of interests and hobbies and threw himself wholeheartedly into new worlds, often sweeping up those around him in his ideas.

“Barak did everything with a lot of enthusiasm. He used to inspire passion in people. He would throw out ideas and he would inspire you to take part in them, and you would feel like you wanted to bring him the moon,” Houry’s mother, Tsofit, told The Times of Israel on Wednesday in an interview at the family home in Ramat Gan.

“There was no telling him no or talking him out of it,” she said.

Houry’s presence is everywhere in the family’s apartment. His artwork, mainly vast landscape paintings, line the walls and his equipment — small screws, wires, glue guns, fabrics, paint, and so on — often “took over communal spaces, so much so, that we would be eating dinner next to nails,” his mother joked.

And on the narrow balcony where the family laundry hangs to dry, he built an improvised workshed made out of repurposed drawers, cupboards, and wooden planks, complete with small LED lights so he could work at night and shower curtains for privacy. He would often be there for hours fusing things together, gluing, spray-painting, sawing, and generally just building, his parents explained.

The desk in his bedroom is also filled with pieces of equipment — drawers up to the brim with various metals and fabrics, toolboxes and tools — sketchbooks, drawing utilities, and school books. Here too, his artwork lines the walls — paintings and framed color sketches.

“Everything is as he left it,” his mom said.

On his unmade bed rests a small-scale unfinished prototype of the fire-fighting robot he had been working on. To build it, he consumed hours and hours of YouTube videos and instruction manuals on electronics,........

© The Times of Israel

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