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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘clown’

The Clown Therapist Who Sees No Borders

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Reuven Singer can often be seen wearing two very different uniforms that seem worlds apart.

The 33-year-old father, who lives in Karnei Shomron in northwestern Samaria, dons his bullet-proof vest and carries his M16 to protect his community in an event of a terrorist attack, as a volunteer in his neighborhood security watch team. But Singer’s other uniform – a far jollier one – consists of a red rubber nose, clown shoes, and a colorful tie and crazy hat that he wears during clown therapy sessions at a Tel Aviv hospital.

The religious settler travels once a week to the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov Hospital), where he works to uplift patients, through jokes, laughter and improvisation.

“A hospital is not a fun place,” Singer tells Tazpit News Agency. You want the patients to feel more comfortable.

“I’ve worked with children and parents who are hysterical before blood infusions, check-ups, or surgery. My job is to relax the parents and help the child overcome the pain and tension. That helps the staff and doctors too. Once you give the parent and child a chance to smile and breathe more easily, it helps everyone,” Singer told Tazpit News Agency in an exclusive interview.

Singer, who has been volunteering as clown therapist for three years, has worked with many different sectors of Israeli society including Palestinian children from Gaza who have been brought into Israel for treatment. “You don’t look at the person before you – I don’t see an Arab, Eritrean, Russian, or whatever ethnicity person is – all I see is the pain.”

“To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s an Arab child or a Jewish child – I want to help bring that person out of the pain and give him or her some positive energy,” Singer explains.

“Sometimes, I throw in a word in Russian or Arabic during a joke and the smile in return is worth everything.”

Singer has found himself in situations where rocks have been thrown at his vehicle on his way home to Samaria from the hospital.

“Palestinians throwing rocks at my vehicle won’t stop me,” he says. “I believe that when Arab patients see me, it will give them a chance to see that a religious settler is not a monster and maybe in turn it will make them stop throwing rocks.”

Singer’s day job is aerial photography but he says that it’s his volunteer work that is most meaningful. “I volunteer in two very different professions, but both save lives in different ways.”

He describes a unique Purim two years ago in Karnei Shomron when he dressed up in the clown costume he usually donned for clown therapy session. Suddenly in the middle of the Purim seuda (festive holiday meal) the community was alerted to a potential terror threat.

“Here I was, dressed as a clown with a red rubber nose, and I had to go out with my M16 for a security check,” he says. “That was truly a bizarre experience.”

Today an estimated number of 320 clown therapists operate across Israel. Following a chance meeting with a clown therapist who treated Singer’s daughter when she was hospitalized five years ago, Singer decided to take a six-month clown therapy course where he learned how to be a medical clown himself.

“I go to the hospital every week and act as a clown to make someone feel better. I want to change a child’s reality for good and this is how I do it.”

Israeli Mother of Terror Victim Cheers Sick People as Medical Clown

Monday, March 4th, 2013

On March 1, 2001, Claude Knapp was murdered by a suicide bomber while taking a shared taxi from Tel Aviv that exploded around the Mei Ami Junction. He was 29 years of age. Nine other people were injured. Claude’s dog survived this terror attack, however, unlike his owner, yet was traumatized for the rest of his life, refusing to bark like other dogs traditionally do. It demonstrates that animals, just like people, can suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. As can be expected, life was never the same after that point for Claude’s mother and two other siblings.

Claude Knapp was murdered in a terrorist attack.

Claude Knapp was murdered in a terrorist attack.

Since that time, Daniele Knapp, Claude’s mother, who presently lives in Afula, has been an outspoken advocate against terrorism and against foreign funding reaching terrorists. She went as part of a delegation with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs to The Hague, where she was interviewed by Spanish, French, and German reporters. Daniele also spoke at an event organized in Boston by the Israel Project. Unfortunately, the Palestinian who murdered Daniele’s son, Ziad Kilani, was released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal.

Daniele does not comprehend how Palestinian suicide bombers and their families can be so cruel. She claims that she can never understand parents who just lost their children yet hand out sweets and candy after their children are dead or just murdered Jews.  According to Daniele, “Having a child is a gift from Hashem and someone who doesn’t appreciate that is something terrible. To fight is not the most important thing.” She was thus critical of Arab forces, such as those actually in Syria, who preferred weapons over humanitarian aid for needy children.

It has been about twelve years since Daniele lost her son.   She deals with her grief mainly by becoming a volunteer medical clown where she cheers up people who suffer from various illnesses.   According to the Simchat Halev Organization where she studied to be a clown:

Every one needs to laugh—especially children and adults who are hospitalized with serious medical conditions.   Laughter not only raises a patients’ spirits; it’s been proven to reduce anxiety, speed the recovery process and simply make life better.   And that’s what Simchat Halev is all about.   Simchat Halev is a magical organization that creates laughter, humor and happiness in environments where, most often, nothing seems funny—like hospitals, rehabilitation centers and nursing homes.

Daniele has gone to numerous events to help needy children, where she would hand out balloons, magic, engage in dolls theatre and make people laugh, and to entertain children inside of bomb shelters. This past Purim, she visited a child who had cancer. According to Daniele, usually the children are very happy whenever she comes to them. Indeed, one parent wrote to her stating,

I saw you and Y***** in the pictures and you both have a real and happy smile from the heart. I too get emotional when I see this. And to know that he told everyone about how wonderful it was with you, about him being happy and joyful – this is a true present a person could wish for. Even though I never met you, I know and feel from your letters your love and attention and caring for people. You give them your heart, you care for everyone personally, and they feel it. The wonderful love within you is unique. You are unique.

By making underprivileged children laugh and smile, Daniele is truly doing a mitzvah. Yet it is important to note that Daniele is doing this all in the memory of her beloved son, Claude. She claimed,

I believe joy is one of the things that can cure the sadness. I think that every one can do his own joy. […] Dr. Hunter Patch Adams has a philosophy we should be very creative and to push people to be happy and trust that this happiness will give them strength, and if we keep crying about what has happened to us, then we will never enjoy our life.

Daniele’s clown name is DR Caramel.  When visiting the sick, there is no color or religious difference and this proves that we should bring joy and love to everyone who has suffered.

Originally published at United with Israel.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/guest-blog/israeli-mother-of-terror-victim-cheers-sick-people-as-medical-clown/2013/03/04/

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