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Lev Leytzan in Munich

New York-based Therapeutic Clowning Troupe Returns from Unique Outreach Mission to Germany and Israel…

Lev Leytzan, (Hebrew for „The Heart of the Clown”) a New York based not-for-profit therapeutic clowning program, has just returned from an unprecedented and wildly successful outreach program to Germany and Israel in celebration of Chanukah 2008.

The goal of the two-week trip was to provide emotional relief through the troupe’s unique form of humor and healing. This represents the first time the group, which has been providing humanitarian and social services since its founding in 2004, visited outside of the US or Israel. Organizers also believe Lev Leytzan is the first US-based teen medical clowning troupe to visit Germany, where particular emphasis was placed on interacting with members of the aging community of Holocaust survivors in Munich.

During the troupe’s four days in Munich, they visited with old and young – including recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union and children suffering from emotional and physical challenges – in an effort to help bridge the gap of Jewish social services in the community, delivering much needed happiness and laughter for the holiday and beyond.

„Lev Leytzan’s display of humanitarianism and social service in Munich was remarkable,” shared Beth Friedlander, Coordinator of the Munich Program. „The joy these young adults brought during each place they visited was much-needed and could not have come at a better time.”

Lev Leytzan’s time in Munich was spent at the Saul Eisenberg Seniorheim IKG München, Die Brücke group home, engaging home visits and numerous community programs at Ohel-Jakob Jewish Community Center for recent Russian immigrant adults and children, as well as young adults and families with special needs.

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The trip to Munich was followed with 10 days in Israel packed with visits to numerous hospitals, private homes, orphanages and institutions including Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, Tel HaShomer Hospital, Schneider Children’s Hospital, hospices and Children’s Village of Jerusalem, just to name a few.

Dr. Neal C. Goldberg, Founder and Director of Lev Leytzan, says this mission was the most successful yet, having clowned for thousands of individuals and having visited with hundreds of families – far surpassing previous missions. „Every year I am amazed at how hard our clowns work and their seemingly endless supply of energy and love of life. This year’s trip was especially physically grueling, and you would not have known it from watching the clowns in action.”

Lev Leytzan is widely acclaimed for its unique approach to therapeutic clowning. Dr. Goldberg, a psychologist and a therapeutic clown himself, was inspired by the work of Dr. Patch Adams who pioneered the use of clowning as a therapeutic tool in medical treatment. The work of Lev Leytzan goes beyond the hospital room, however. All those whose lives have been thrown off course by forces beyond their control can benefit from the services of the clowning group: lives that have been touched by war, trauma, natural disaster, and poverty, for example.

The clowns of Lev Leytzan reach their audiences by transforming them from mere spectators into active participants in the antics. The distraction, the emotions, and the hope that come from laughing freely and actually influencing the interaction with the clowns provide audience members with a feeling of effectiveness which can go a long way in both physical and psychic healing. In addition, positive memories are formed with which the sick and disadvantaged people can gain strength as they heal.

Finally, the clowns themselves make Lev Leytzan a unique group. They are all teenaged volunteers who have gone through a six-month period of extensive training in the physical, emotional, and psychological effects of clowning on both the patient and on the clown himself. A troupe of selfless and giving young people, they invigorate the lives of so many with their pure humanitarian spirit.

Founded in 2004 by Dr. Neal C. Goldberg, The Compassionate Clown Alley-Lev Leytzan has been training teens and young adults in the art of medical clowning and spreading joy and laughter to thousands of children and elderly in the New York area and in Israel. Dr. Goldberg, a clinical psychologist who treats children, teens, and adults, provides his clowns with opportunities to gain self-confidence and compassion at a young age through their abilities to entertain and cheer the sick and elderly. To contact or for more information about Lev Leytzan, go to www.levleytzan.com.