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  • rileysoloner

Jewish Clown

Updated: Oct 13, 2023

Here I sit. A clown and a Jew, feeding on the daily ground-up info-meal. Friends condemn destruction and violence. They gather their words to shut down a one-sided, close-minded conditional peace. They amplify voices calling for a universal peace that liberates everyone.

A remarkable set of coincidences and conversations over the past few weeks have given me the courage and curiosity to explore my relationship with my Jewishness. I've been gathering information and resources on understanding the rich history of the JCC, the Jewish Clown Connection. It's all a part of the larger recipe, a meditation and a creative exercise on the clown as a figure of an outspoken, active demonstration of peace and transformation. And then, Israel declares war. I said to myself, "I sure picked the wrong century to reckon with my Jewish identity."

Right on cue, the cloud of tyranny thickens into a greater collective awareness than the comfortable, privileged "usual."

What's a hippy clown, novice-level Jew to do in this situation? What's a clown to do in any situation?

Remain open and resilient. Trust myself enough to not shy away from reality. Don't be rigid and expectant, looking for a laugh that might not be there. The path to a joyful transformation is not a straight line. Don't force it. The last thing you want is for it to come off as ignorant, inappropriate, callous.

It makes me think about clowning in a hospital, or on the street. It's not about barging in and being a goof no matter what. It's about training your awareness of the needs in the room. If it's time to play with raucous children, game on. If the situation calls for holding hands and sitting quietly, a clown does that too.

Shedding expectation and being present enough to not shy away from the real experience is fundamental to clown. On the days I hope, dream and work towards, I imagine a theater at a circus summer camp or in a black box basement buzzing with laughter. Then, there are days like this. The gag and the lightness isn't the right move. Remaining open to the experience with compassion and resilience is. It's unpredictable if a magic moment can come from it, and what shape it'll take. But I think it's important for a clown to not wither and disappear in the face of world destruction, for fear of if it's appropriate, "too soon." It's important to adapt to the situation and proceed accordingly, holding onto the dream of peace realized.

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