Jul 11, 2004 11:03 pm


Dear Prof. Klinghoffer,

A few months ago you mentioned the VTPlayer that allows blind people to"see" what is on a computer screen. The CEO of VirTouch, is Arnold Roth whose daughter was killed in Sbarro 3 years ago. I wrote the following article for a local (Baltimore) publication, and hope to post it shortly on my website.

I thought you might be interested,

David Gerstman

Lifting the Darkness

Too often when we think of Israel – even those of us who support Israel - we think of the negatives. We think of the terror and those who hate Israel but don’t focus enough on the positive aspects of the Jewish State.

Certainly in recent weeks it would be very easy to focus on the negatives. A pregnant mother and her four children were brutally murdered; soldiers defending the country were killed and their bodies mutilated; and the UN condemned Israeli defensive actions.

But there has also been some remarkable positive news coming from Israel . Tourism has rebounded almost to the level it was before the “intifada” started; the economy has shown strong signs of recovery; and, overall, terrorism has decreased in recent months.

One of the positive stories that I’ve seen concerns a technology start-up. The company, VirTouch, recently produced a product, called the VTPlayer, that allows the blind to participate more fully in computing. When attached to a computer and the appropriate software is loaded onto the computer, the VTPlayer, that is slightly larger than a mouse, allows people who are blind or who have limited vision to “see” the multimedia application.

Until the VTPlayer, in order for a blind person the ability to participate in a multi-media program, the person had to rely on sounds. Now images are recreated on a tactile pad located on the VTPlayer.

The (blind) popular American singer, Stevie Wonder recently attended a demonstration of the VTPlayer in California and was so impressed with the product that he wouldn’t stop playing with it. Finally he bought the display model.

The CEO of VirTouch is Arnold Roth, an oleh from Melbourne , Australia . After completing his law degree in Australia , Arnold Roth pursued post-graduate studies in New York where he met his future wife, Frimet. She had grown up with a strong Zionist background and wanted to make Aliyah. They agreed that after living in Australia they would make Aliyah.

After twelve years of marriage and four children, in 1988, the Roths moved to Ramot in Jerusalem . Subsequently they had three daughters, including the youngest, Chaya Elisheva. Chaya Elisheva is severely disabled and requires a lot of special attention.

The Roths’ daughter, Malki, was a great help to her parents in caring for her younger sibling. Malki was devoted to her sister and it inspired her to volunteer in a camp dedicated to assisting disabled children.

Malki was also a talented musician, who played classical flute for the Jerusalem youth orchestra. Malki’s ambition was to combine her talent with her passion and become a musical therapist.

On August 9, 2001 , Malki’s dreams came to an end. Discussing an upcoming event of their youth group, Malki and her best friend, Michal Raziel, went to Sbarro for lunch. A young Arab man entered with a guitar case in his hand and hatred in his heart. Coming from a well to do family, the murderer detonated the deadly explosives in his case, not out of desperation, but of a religiously borne hatred.

Malki and Michal were killed on the spot. Instead of finishing high school, the two friends were buried together.

Malki Roth may not have been able to fulfill her dreams but her parents created Keren Malki ( – The Malki Foundation - in her memory. Keren Malki is dedicated to providing “… solutions for the special needs of families in Israel - Christian, Moslem, Druze and Jewish alike - wanting to give the best possible home-care to their child with severe disabilities.” Keren Malki committed to carrying on Malki’s legacy of helping those born with handicaps.

Malki’s musical legacy also lives on. Before her death, Malki had written a song “Shir Lismoach” for a competition. For unknown reasons the song wasn’t entered on time for the competition. Her parents became aware of the song while they were sitting shiva for her.

(If you have the Shabsi’s Judaica tenth anniversary CD, “Shir Lismoach” is the ninth song. Otherwise you can purchase a CD, “Voices For Israel” whose proceeds are going to support the families of terror victims.)

The song, which is cheery and optimistic, is rendered especially poignant by the fact that its composer was killed at the age of 15. As the Roth family mourned their daughter, her song was sung all over Israel spread by her friends in memory of its composer.

there is a simple plaque hanging in Sbarro now. It reads “In memory of the darkness that fell, August 9, 2001 .” Figuratively, the Roth family, through Keren Malki, has worked to lift that darkness.

Through his work with VirTouch, Arnold Roth has worked to lift the darkness of blind people everywhere.

In both cases the Roth family has contributed greatly to the benefit of their adopted home and to people everywhere.

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