Not just for laughs

By Sophia Jane Wilkof, Midreshet Yeud 
This year I have had the opportunity to put my Zionism into meaningful action.
I chose to go to a seminary called Midreshet Yeud, where I was able to both immerse myself in Jewish learning to strengthen my Jewish identity, and immerse myself in Israeli life through volunteering to strengthen my tie to this land.
I've always loved performing and I wanted to put that passion into something productive that could also contribute to Israel. I researched and discovered medical clowning, which seemed like the perfect match for me!
After a short training session, I became what is called a Medical Clown intern at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital. Each week I would go to the hospital in full clown garb and makeup to entertain the sick children in the Pediatric and Pediatric Oncology wards—I would make balloon animals, blow bubbles, and just have a good time with the kids, trying to cheer them up.
Once, on the bus back to school after a difficult day of clowning, I was sitting across from a little Arab boy and his parents. He had just come from the hospital and seemed grumpy. I pulled out my balloon making materials and made a little shiny orange dog for him. Slowly but surely, his lips curved into a smile which eventually turned into a laugh!
We tossed the balloon back and forth on the bus while his smiling parents watched until we reached my stop. His parents thanked me for entertaining him and I hopped off the bus, unable to contain my smile.
I've loved every second of medical clowning. Although it was be incredibly challenging at times, it has been so rewarding. It is true that I will be leaving this country I love in just under three weeks, but by volunteering, by being a David Project Israel fellow, and by just living life here,  I have worked to gain the necessary tools to aid this country and to fuel my passion for it next year at UCLA.
I cannot wait to go home and share my experiences with everyone I meet on campus and it is my hope to continue this work of using performance to better the world as I move forward in college!

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