Talya English

Why did you choose to participate in Lev Leytzan?

I saw Therapeutic Clowning as a great way to bring cheer and friendship to those who are going through difficult times. It’s a great way to just have fun, be crazy and experience new things all while using this energy for a great cause.

Did you feel nervous or uncertain with this new challenge?

I wasn’t nervous until we made our first “Rounds” at the Hospital and I had to engage with people I never met before. That’s when it hit me. But, those feelings fade with time and experience. Yes, there are times when nervousness sets in; you’re aware of it but with practice and routine you gain the confidence in your abilities which sets those thoughts aside.
Plus, even though our clown training is a personal and individual development, being part of a group allows everyone to feed off each other’s strengths and work on growing together - not just as clowns, but as friends. We always train and engage patients in pairs, and there is certainly a calming effect that comes with knowing that you have a fellow clown and friend at your side.

What characteristics would you say are essential in the development of a Therapeutic Clown?

You need to allow yourself to feel uninhibited by what others might think. Clowning is about being comfortable in your own skin. Trust me, there will be some embarrassing moments once in a while, but that’s just part of the experience! It’s an awesome feeling to be completely carefree and just being yourself.

Do you have a “Go To” trick, routine or prop that you utilize often when interacting with patients?

The Kazorn! It’s an awesome instrument. It’s a mix between a Kazoo and a Horn. It gets huge laughs every time!

What has been your most gratifying & rewarding Clowning Moment?

Once while doing Rounds at Saint Mary’s Hospital, the nurse told my fellow clown, Tehilla Berger, and me that there was one patient in particular we should visit. The patient was a 5 year old boy in a withdrawn state who was attached to all these machines. After five minutes of attempting to engage him, he had not responded at all. We weren’t even sure if he was aware we were in the room. Since there were many other kids we were visiting that day, we decided we would move on. But just as we were finishing our interaction, the boy who we thought was not receptive looked our way and gave us this sweet smile. It was a beautiful moment.

We have seen many patients smile before, but that boy’s smile helped us realize something very important: Even during times when we don’t see the smile we are looking for, I know our efforts are not in vain. In those moments, I think back to that little boy and remember that our efforts may resonate in ways we don’t even realize.


Dassy Newman

I just love being a clown! It’s not really a typical thing for a nineteen year old Bais yaakov girl to do, and I know this is a chessed that not everyone will know about, but I love being part of something that’s a lot bigger than myself.

When we’re clowns, our entire focus is on the patient and what’s good for her. We connect to the patient as a person, in a nonthreatening way. We’re just treating these people like we’d treat anyone else. We show them that someone cares.

One time we made a home visit to an eleven years old girl named Estie* who had been sick for many months. It was hard for her to breathe, and her situation was getting worse. There was a group of men learning in the living room, and some women sitting with the girl and talking quietly. The mood in the house was very serious and very, very sad.

Then a group of clowns came in – imagine seventeen clowns all squished into this tiny bedroom! Estie sat up. She talked to us and laughed. When we were ready to leave, she hobbled over to the door and thanked us for coming. Later, Estie’s mother told us that Estie had been really depressed. She hadn’t smiled or even spoken to anyone for almost a month before we came!

It’s hard for us to see people who are really sick, or people who are old and sad. But I try to remember that this old person I’m seeing now was once a young kid who played and ran around, just like my little brothers. When I perform and talk to these people, I can’t always get a laugh out of them, but I can usually get them to stop snarling!

I’ve gained a tremendous amount by being a medical clown. There’s no question that I’m more sensitive to other people now. Besides, I’ve learned all these great skills. and it certainly is different!

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