The following piece originally appeared in JBI’s Spring 2006 newsletter, Focus on JBI. Dr. Nemeth will be sorely missed. His was a unique contribution to Jewish life and to the blind community.
Dr. Abraham Nemeth:
Teacher, Inventor and Volunteer
We are proud to count a remarkably inspirational man, Dr. Abraham Nemeth, among those who help us edit and compile our audio and Braille texts. Blind since birth, Dr. Nemeth, who turned 87 last October, lives a life that defies disability. In 1985, he retired as Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Detroit Mercy. Since then, his achievements for members of the blind community — and especially for the Jewish blind — rival even his remarkable academic career.
Dr. Nemeth devised a multitude of tools used by blind individuals, including a circular Braille slide rule and the internationally used standard Braille system for writing math, aptly termed the Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics and Science Notation. Also, while teaching himself to play piano, Dr. Nemeth discovered there was no Braille music dictionary for reading music signs in Braille; so, in 1954, he wrote one himself.
“We have had a very long and, for us, a very meaningful association with Dr. Nemeth for more than 50 years,” said Dr. Ellen Isler, JBI International President and CEO. “He helped us produce our first Hebrew Braille Bible.”
JBI’s Hebrew Braille Bible was the first book of its kind, combining the oldest language, Hebrew, with the newest one: Braille. Following the Bible, JBI enlisted Dr. Nemeth to work on several Braille prayer books. “What Dr. Nemeth does requires a lot of textual knowledge as well as a perfect knowledge of Hebrew Braille,” Dr. Isler said. “There aren’t many people who have the combined knowledge needed to do this editing and compilation. He is a unique resource.”
Dr. Nemeth’s current work for JBI is the conversion of The Complete Artscroll Siddur (by Nosson Scherman) into Braille. The Artscroll Siddur is the most popular Orthodox Siddur in use today.
(Photo is courtesy of American Printing House for the Blind.)