THE EARLY BEGINNINGS
In 1987, Dr Julius Sergay, the doyen of South African Bowls for the Blind, visited Israel to conduct a coaching course for sighted bowlers. During his stay, he succeeded in inspiring a number of coaches to take an interest in Blind Bowls, notably Leila Zimmerman (assisted later by Freddie Ish-Shalom) who started training blind players in Haifa.
Some 18 months later, bowls for the blind was started at Kfar Maccabiah, in the Tel Aviv area, with Juliette Birnhack, Essie Narunsky, Joe Goldberg and Dan van Cruyfeldt in the forefront.
FOUNDING OF THE ASSOCIATION
In the latter part of 1989, Alex Goldsmith, who had become involved with bowls for the blind, flew to South Africa to participate in an intensive two-week coaching course run by that country’s top blind bowls coaches. Shortly after his return, he felt that Israel should have its own national body, and, together with a founding committee, he formed and registered the Israel Lawn Bowls Association for the Blind.
BLIND BOWLS SPREADS COUNTRYWIDE
By 1992, bowls for the blind had been started in Jerusalem by Dr. Norman Cohen, and in Raanana by Alex and was also being played in Ramat Gan. In later years, blind bowlers also played at Netanya Club and Kiryat Ono.
All the bowling facilities have been made available to the blind by the courtesy of Israel’s sighted bowlers and a very close bond exists between the two bodies.
The World Championships for the Blind held in Victoria, Canada in 1993,
saw Israel participating in its first international competition with four bowlers
and 4 coaches, and to the surprise of everyone, Itsik Baranes
(c. Alex Goldsmith) and Tami Carmeli (c. Ivan Israel) won the silver medal in
the B1 pairs category.
At the initiative of Alex Goldsmith, and Jim Bircham from Scotland, it was decided
that competive\social visits between countries could greatly enhance the game,
and in 1995 Israel hosted a team from Scotland on a very successful tour.
In July 1995, the IPC held a pre-qualifying tournament in Aylesbury, England. Two of Israel’s players managed to qualify for the Para-Olympics. In August 1996, Tami Carmeli (c. Ivan Israel) and Itsik Baranes (c. Alex Goldsmith) each won individual bronze medals in the B1 Singles at the Paralympic Games held in Atlanta, Georgia. Tami’s son, Ran, made a documentary movie on her trip to the Games titled “My mother’s first Olympics” and this film won the award of the “best documentary of the year” and was shown numerous times on Israel’s Chanel 2 TV.
Early in 1996 Scotland hosted a memorable visit of teams of blind bowlers from Israel and Canada.
ESSIE NARUNSKY DAY
That same year, Essie Narunsky, one of the stalwarts of blind bowls in the early years, passed away.
Subsequently, at Alex's initiative, the Israeli Blind Bowls committee decided to institute an annual event to commemorate her contribution, in which blind and sighted bowlers play together in thesame teams. To this day the “Essie Narunsky Day” is a much anticipated event on the Israeli bowls
calendar and is always fully subscribed.
In 1998, Israel participated in the IPC Tournament held in Germiston, South Africa. Tami Carmeli (c. Alex Goldsmith) won a bronze medal. In 1999, a very successful four-nation competition was held in Kilmarnock, Scotland, with teams from England, Israel, Canada and Scotland\Wales participating.
In 1999, Juliette Birnhack was made an Honorary Life Member of the Association.
THE NEW MILLENIUM - RAUMA WEIZMAN
The new millennium, May 2000, saw Israel hosting 69 visitors from Scotland, South Africa and Canada. This week long “happening” received wide media coverage and culminated with the presentation of prizes by the wife of the President of Israel, Mrs. Rauma Weizman.
The year 2000 also saw Itsik Baranes and Tami Carmeli being awarded the coveted title of “Spotrman of the Year” in a ceremony that was covered live on Israel’s Channel 2, in prime time.
GOLD MEDAL FOR BUCHNIK
World Bowls for the Blind was held in Girvan, Scotland in 2001 and Rachel Buchnik (c. Haya Prager) won Israel’s a gold medal in this Tournament. Itsik Baranes and Tami Carmeli won a bronze in the B1 pairs.
IPC IN AUSTRALIA
At the IPC Tournament held in Adelaide, Australia in 2002, Tami Carmeli (c. Sarah Shapiro) won a silver medal in the B1 singles and a bronze with Itsik Baranes (c. Carmel Scop) in the pairs. Rachel Buchnik (c. Haya Prager) won a silver medal in the B3 singles.
ALEX ELECTED HON. LIFE PRESIDENT
In 2003, Itsik Baranes was elected President of the Association, taking over from Alex Goldsmith who had served as President since its inception. At that meeting, Alex was unanimously elected Honorary Life President of the Israel Lawn Bowls Association for the Blind. This followed an award to him by the Israel Government in 2000 for his voluntary work in promoting services for the blind, and the Telfed Volunteer Award of 2002.
Later in 2003, South Africa hosted an Israeli team in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth .Nava Mutsafi (c. Chanita Hertogs) and Rachel Buchnik (c. Haya Prager) won a gold medal in the B3 pairs. In 2004 England hosted a visiting team from Israel for the first time.
WORLD BOWLS SOUTH AFRICA
World Bowls was held in Johannesburg, South Africa at which Israel achieved its best results to date. Rachel Buchnik (Haya Prager) wona silver in the B3singles and a bronze with Shlomo Herscovits (Norman Golding) who also won a bronze in the B3 singles.
Itsik Baranes (Miri Goldfarb) won a silver medal in the B1 singles and
a silver in the pairs with Tami Carmeli(Jackie Lieberthal). Sarah Shapiro
was team manager. Israel finished in second place overall out of 12
FIRST ISRAELI TO HEAD WORLD'S BLIND BOWLERS
In 2005, Alex Goldsmith, became the first Israeli to head
the World Blind Bowls Executive when he was elected
President of the IBBA, International Blind Bowls Association,
for a period of four years, after serving as Vice – President
from 2001 to 2005.
SPORTSMEN OF THE YEAR
In January 2006, Itsik Baranes and Tami Carmeli were again awarded “Sportsmen of the Year”by the Minister of Science, Culture and Sports.In July that year, Scotland hosted Israel, England and Cananda. Shlomo Herscovits (Norman Golding) and Nava Mutsafi (Hanita Hertogs) both won gold medals in the singles and pairs. In 2007, Israel hosted a team from England for the first time. In October, Israel participated in the IBD Championships in Sydney, Australia.
SPORTSMEN OF THE DECADE
In 2008 Rachel Buchnik and Itsik Baranes were awarded “Sportsmen of the Decade” by Mr. Raleb Majadla, Minister of Science, Culture and Sport. ILBAB is currently headed by Sarah Shapiro who was elected to the post in 2009.
MEMBERSHIP AND WEEKLY PLAY
The membership of Israel’s blind bowlers has remained pretty constant over the years with between 40 – 50 bowlers and a similar number of coaches playing on a weekly basis at three of the clubs for the sighted bowlers in Haifa, Kiryat Ono and Raanana. The organization runs numerous National competitions every year and was a pioneer in instituting friendly\competitive overseas competitions. It has also been in the forefront of upgrading coaching techniques and has introduced something unique by using volunteer soldiers to act as directors for the blind bowlers.
History of blind bowls in Israel
First Israeli team to play at a World Bowls-Victoria,Canada 1993
Israel at tournament for disabled bowlers - Stoke Mandeville
Israel's team of blind bowlers and coaches - Stoke Mandeville
The Late Essie Narunsky
The Israeli Team - runners-up at World Bowls in S. Africa 2005
Alex Goldsmith - Hon.Life President ILBAB, Past President IBBA
Blind bowlers at 20th Anniversary celebrations at Raanana club
"Sightseeing" in London - Alex with Tami, Zehava and Itsik