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Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Talmud (Ta’anit 22a) teaches that Eliyahu haNavi remarked to Rabbi Beroka, “Those two have a share in the world to come.” Rabbi Beroka approached the two and asked them, “What do you do?” They replied, “We are clowns. When we see people depressed, we cheer them up; and when we see two people quarreling, we strive hard to make peace between them.” Starting this Sunday, September 25, residents of Bergen County will have the opportunity to clown for a cause (and maybe even earn a share in Olam Haba).

Areyvut, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching children and teens about the values of kindness, charity and social action, introduced Mitzvah Clowning, a caring clowning program, back in 2008. Since then, Areyvut has trained over 500 people in the art of clowning and has brought joy to the lives of thousands of people. Participants of this program learn all about mitzvah clowning and engage in role-play exercises in order to learn how to interact with seniors, children with special needs and others who are in need of a smile. Following the initial training, the mitzvah clowns will go on a site visit to put their clowning skills into action, and monthly visits will continue throughout the year, culminating in the Celebrate Israel Parade on June 4.

“The goal of Mitzvah Clowning is to try to change the energy in the room. To bring some color—figuratively and literally—into the room and to create some energy, excitement and a sense of possibility,” says Daniel Rothner, founder and director of Areyvut. “The program is extremely empowering. Not only are participants benefiting others by bringing happiness into their lives, but they are benefiting themselves by seeing how much of an impact they can have on the world.”

The September 25 training will take place from 8:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, 10 Link Drive, Rockleigh, NJ 07647. The cost to participate in this program is $250. This fee includes mitzvah clown training, a clown kit, a costume and supplies for the guided site visits. This is a one-time fee; mitzvah clowns can participate year after year, and all trainees are encouraged to continue coming back and making friendly visits with new groups for as many years to come as they like. The Mitzvah Clowning program has proven to be the gift that keeps on giving. Previous participants of the program continue to visit senior centers, nursing homes and children with special needs and have inspired their friends and families to get involved as well.

To get this year’s Bergen County Mitzvah Clowning schedule or to learn more about this program, please email [email protected], call 201-244-6702 or visit www.areyvut.org.

By JLNJ Staff