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March 30, 2012     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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March 30, 2012

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PAGE 24A Israel's blind bowler HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 30, 2012 Shlomi Lazmy's story will bowl you over. By Abigail Klein Leich- . man Israel 21c The sound of pins falling brings a smile to Shlomi Lazmy's face. But he can only estimate how many he's knocked down with his bowling ball, because Lazrny cannot see. Until the explosion that blinded him during army- reserve duty when he was a 28-year-old newlywed, Lazmy wasn't much of a bowler. Now 55, he has long since adapted his love of sports to his lack of sight. In 1992, he represented Israel at the Paralympics in goalbali, a soccer-like sport for the blind where goalies and players are guided by the jingling of bells inside the ball. At the urging of his 17-year-old son, about two years ago he began investi- Happy Passover Maitland. Tire Company Robert A. Lesperance 33 North Orlando Avenue ,- Maitland, Florida 32751 407-539,,08oo Fax 407-539.,0608 Wishing our friends and clients a Happy Passover! MORRISC)N BROWN ARGIZ & EkRR\\;, LLC CElnm mc CCOUmsS D 0 Ira Silver, CPA I Partner Donald Levin, CPA I Director 200 South Orange Avenue, Suite 1445, Orlando, FL 3280 I T 407 237 3600 F 407 237 3601 I Happy Passover! "At Southeast Steel YOU get the best deal" APPLIANCE WAREHOUSE SHOWROOM 83 W. Amelia St. Orlando, FL 32801 (407) 423-7654 Wishing You A Happy Passover From Mardi, Ron, Ben Shader & Kimberly & Steve Shlomi Lazmy sets up the next shot in his mind. gating bowling leagues for the blind via his text-to-voice computer. Though Israel has a lawn-bowling league for people with visual impair- ments, it doesn't have one for 10-pin bowlers. Lazmy tried it anyway. "I don't have so many opportunities for sport, and this is very enjoyable," La-zmy tells ISRAEL21c. Today he plays every Monday and Wednesday at a nearby bowling alley in Holon, a suburb of Tel Aviv. "At the beginning, he tried many things to help him bowl. Then he read about blind bowlers abroad using a special guide rail, and his brother made one for him," says Lazmy's wife, Idit. "It's not very convenient to bring, because it's heavy, but it's built on wheels." The rail allows Lazmy to position" himself correctly before sending the ball roll- ing. Obviously it does the trick: His average score per game is a very respectable 120 to 130. "Idit used to bowl with me," he says, "but now a friend picks me up and comes along. I can tell pretty well from the sound how many pins fall, but someone must watch and tell me what remains." After the first ball of ev- ery frame, his companion uses a code they devised to describe where to aim for the spare. If he says, for ex- ample, "Minus-1 Brooklyn" or "Minus-2 Hollywood," Lazmy can visualize the po'sition of the pins still standing. As he releases the" ball, he can sense im- mediately if it's heading in the right direction. "It's really amazing," says Idit. "People watch him, and they can't believe he can't see." Lazmy is the oldest mem- ber of Mishkan HaYazamut, which employs about 40 people with various dis- abilities to interact with Is- raeli fourth- to 12th-grad, ers. Director Kfir Naimark says that after engaging the kids in games of goalball or wheelchair basketball, for example, the members By David Rosenberg The Media Line Why can't Ghazi read? The answe/is he can, but because he has to contend with Arabic characters, it takes him longer than it does for Johnny to master English or for Yoni to gain proficiency in Hebrew. In fact, research shows that odds are that given the chance Ghazi can learn to read Hebrew faster than his native tongue. The fact that Arabic is harder to read than English, Hebrew or probably a lot of other languages is an estab- lished fact. Researchers at Israel's University of Haifa set out to find out why and the answer, they believe, is that reading in English and Hebrew draws on both hemispheres of the brain while Arabic reading relies on the left hemisphere. "The left hemisphere of an Arabic reader can do the task [of reading] by itself. The right hemisphere can help it, but the left hemisphere can also do it on its own," Zohar Eviatar, one of the two researchers, told The Media Line. "We didn't find any evidence that the right hemisphere contributes anything to the process of word recognition." The two hemispheres of the brain control different types of activities. The right half specializes in processing spatial tasks and the holistic processing of messages, while the left side is responsible for processing verbal messages He can't see a strike, but Shlomi Lazmy can hear it. share their personal stories and dreams. "Shlomi is so important to our organization," says Naimark. "With great love and wisdom, he helps you understand the world of the blind. It is notan easy world." Israel has several 'sports facilities for the disabled. Lazmy trained in goalball at Belt Halochem in Tel Aviv, one of six such centers for wounded military veterans. He sustained severe in- juries to his eyes on June 1, 1986, while on reserve duty in the Golan Heights with the combat engineer- ing corps. He and Idit-had been married less than a year, and she was pregnant with the first of their three children. "After that, I studied mathematics at Tel Aviv University," says Lazmy, who decided from the start that he would not let his disability get in the way of learning and doing. "He can do everything," says Idit. "He has a high IQ, he is very talented and he's good with his hands. He fixes electricity at home, he builds cupboards, he cooks. He's also very good with the computer. He has a lot of patience. Whenever he gets a new device he sits with it all day to figure out how to use it, and then other blind people call him for support." "I have programs that render the Internet sites in sound," Lazmy explains. He emails in Hebrew and English, though he is more comfortable speaking in .... Hebrew. Bowling appealed to him, he says, because "this sport can be played just as sighted people play it, with the same ball and the same lane. I do other sports for the blind, but this needs the least -: adaptation. I need just the guide rail." He hopes to start a 10-pin : bowling league for the blind. "Although he plays goal- ball and even went to the Olympics, bowling is dif- : ferent because it's his, and ' he's really good at it," says his wife. Trouble rea, a'ing Arabic? It's all in your head "If you go to Arabic schools in Israel, for example, they learn to read Hebrew faster than Arabic," Eviatar said. "In the Palestinian Author- ity, I have a friend whose son was in first grade, and he was angry that his son was learn- ing English faster than Arabic. The bottom line is that Arabic. orthography itself somehow doesn't allow the involvement of the right hemisphere is the very early stages of reading." Eviatar, Ibrahim and others have been researching the challenges to reading Arabic for years. One study they did found that people had more trouble identifying Arabic let- ters than they did Hebrew' or English ones. Another estab- lished that it was not because Arabic characters are usually joined together, but because the letters themselves are visually complex. Hebrew letters are a varia- tion on a square while English characters are quite distinct from one another. Arabic let- ters are, on the one hand, very similar to one another in many cases are and, on the other, change in form, depending on their placement inside aword. Eviatar is quick to note that while the latest study, which was published in January in the journal Behavioral and Brain Functions, takes the work on Arabic reading further ahead, there is still a lot to do, The research did not examine how people actually read Arabic, English and Hebrew, rather whether they could recognize and local processing of mes- sages. They communicate with each other through a thick band of 200-250 million nerve fibers called the corpus callosum. With the left hemisphere doing all the work of read- ing Arabic, explained her colleague and co-researcher, Raphiq Ibrahim of the univer- sity's Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center for the Study of Learning Disabilities, the cognitive burden becomes heavier, making it more dif- ficult to read the language, even for someone who speaks it fluently. Probing the idiosyncrasies of Arabic are important for helping children suffering dyslexia and other disabilities that impair the ability to read. These barriers have, of course, been studied extensively, but nearly all the work has been done with English and more recently in Chinese, said Eviatar. "Arabic is like English and Hebrew in that its an alpha- betic writing system, but we don't really know much about it," she said. "We make all these generalizations based on English. For example, the definition of dyslexia is based on the kind of mistakes chii- drenwho learn English make." Some work, she said, had been done in addressing the special problems of Hebrew readers, but almost nothing has been done in Arabic and it is school children who are paying the price. a string of characters was a realword or gibberish--in the :: space of one fifth of a second. That is too fast for an or- dinary brain scan to capture, so Ibrahim and Eviatar looked to test their hypothesis about the left-right hemisphere connection by inference. They recruited 120 students at Haifa University from among Arabic and Hebrew Speakers andsupplementedwith native ! English speakers from the  university's overseas program for two experiments. , In the first, the students i were asked to figure out whether letters in their native - language flashed up on a com- puter screen formed aword or a . string of letters with no mean- ing. In the second, they were -i given various words on the right or left side of the screen. The words were next shown on both sides of the screen. The target word was highlighted =- to show that it was the word they should identify while the other stimulus appeared on the other side of the screen to - distract the brain processing. The second test is what gave  the researchers insight into the brain's two hemispheres because the right side of the brain controls muscles on the 7 left side of the body and the left side of the brain controls muscles on the a, ight side of the body. Thus, when the proper or nonsense word was screened on the right side of the screen, itwas processed by the left side of the brain and vice versa.