Abigail Klein Leichman
November 27, 2017, Updated November 30, 2017

The Israel-based I Clown You Project brought two Dream Doctor medical clowns, David Barashi and Rotem Goldenberg, from Israel to Los Angeles earlier this month for a weeklong series of events, lectures, hospital visits, workshops and seminars.

The project aims to grow awareness in the United States around the profession of professional medical clowning and its value both in the hospital and in daily life.

In Israel, medical clowning is a recognized healthcare profession. Barashi and Goldenberg are among the 100 members of the Dream Doctors Project.

Barashi heads the medical clown unit at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem and has worked with child and adult patients and victims of disasters in Nepal, Haiti and Uganda. Goldenberg works in settings including a hospital, a religious boarding school and a youth mental health center.

Clowning around at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Photo by Michael Silberstein

The trip was organized with the support of Sinai Temple, University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) Nazarian Center for Israel Studies and University of Southern California (USC) School of Dramatic Arts.

The clowns and I Clown You director Sasha Kapustina visited UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, gave a seminar at the UCLA anthropology department and workshops at the UCLA and USC drama departments, and spoke at the UCLA Center for Israel Studies. Barashi also gave a master class and lectured at American Jewish University.

Israeli Dream Doctor David Barashi leading a medical clowning workshop for University of Southern California drama students. Photo courtesy of I Clown You

Kapustina, a documentary filmmaker, explores the healing powers of medical clowning and popularizes the profession through the I Clown You Project, which includes a film, annual I Clown You Week in November, online webinars, lectures and events including a TED talk.

“The humanist message of the project is more timely than ever before in the current atmosphere of division and hostility,” said Kapustina, whose English-Hebrew-Arabic documentary was featured on ISRAEL21c in October 2015.

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