The Jewish Clown


Avraham Landau, the Jewish Clown


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Meet Avraham Landau

By Jmag Staff

One of the popular and well known figures of Jerusalem is neither a great rabbi nor a politician. His name is Avraham Landau, an interesting person with a special gift that everyone desires – Happiness!

Where ever Avraham is, he exudes happiness and joy. His booming laughter is infectious. He is the spice of the party. "I see so much unhappiness that I want to make people happy" he says.

Avraham utilizes much of his time engaged in his very special mitzvah - bringing happiness to people who find themselves in unfortunate and dire situations. But let us begin with Avraham's unique background and see what brought him into this special mitzvah.

Avraham was born in New York to a special family. They were Jews of the conservative persuasion and entertainment passion. His father was a corporation executive for a large company in the motion picture industry. Because of his father's involvement with the entertainment industry, the whole family felt a special leaning in that direction. His sister, Susan Landau, is today a Hollywood movie producer. One of his brothers became a lawyer in the entertainment industry and his wife works in the "Tonight" show.

While Avraham was growing up, his friends influenced him to go to the Union Theological Seminary, a Christian Bible college. Being a Jew in a Christian school made Avraham desirous to know what a Jew was, after all, the "old testament" was concerned mainly with the Jews. After receiving a Masters Degree in Biblical Literature, he decided to come to Israel in order to explore his own Jewish roots and satisfy his own curiosity.

Avraham took to the land of Israel like a fish in to the water. Here he began seeing and feeling himself as a Jew. After spending close to two years enjoying the Israeli life and working with children and teens, he decided to return to the States. Although at this point he left, yet he felt a strong desire to return.

At this time, Avraham began to begin life going in the entertainment direction. He first started as an extra in the movie, "The Chosen" playing various Chassidic roles. These bit parts brought out his feelings that he wanted to get into entertainment and to keep his Jewish identity. A short while after this he found out about a clown organization called "Clown Alley". This group was very influential on Avraham, and he felt that being a clown was his true calling.

Avraham Landau, the Jewish Clown
Young Avraham as he starts out on his career

He found a clown course in of all places Williamsburg, the noted ultra-orthodox section of Brooklyn. However, this course had no relation to anything Jewish, much less Orthodox. His teacher was a famous clown performer that performed in many top circuses and movies. Here in the clown school he learnt the basic movements to mimic the human personalities and moods. He learnt how to change his face in a manner that would satire the various realms of human realities. He began doing fairs, children's parties, weddings, visits to nursing homes and street festivals. He presented his clown character in many various settings including a special New York ferry ride during the National Clown Week.

While walking around in Williamsburg, he began seeing Jews who acted and dressed like Jews. This made a profound impact on him. His Jewish identity became much more aroused at this time. He felt a strong need to identify more closely with traditional Jewish values and culture.

At this time, he tried out for the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus, but he felt a conflict between his inner desire to experience Jewish identity and the circus environment which was totally devoid of any spirituality sensitivity. He found that the circus was not suitable grounds to enhance his spiritual needs. He needed an environment that let him grown both as a clown and as a Jew. So instead of joining the circus, he began doing his own private shows and performances places that promoted both his clowning career and his Jewish objectives. He became very successful as a clown in New York appearing at many Jewish and secular events.

But still his love for the land and the people of Israel drew him back to return to the land that he loved. He left the States and came to live in Jerusalem, the city where he felt that he could best enhance his desire to continue his personal search for his inherent Jewish character and at the same time involve himself in his life's passion, professional clowning acts. He decided to go study at a Jerusalem yeshiva where he could better understand what being Jewish was all about. At the same time he tried began again to utilize the same skills that he had learnt in America and transfer them to Israel.

Here he found that Israelis were very receptive to his clown shows. Israelis were clown starved; they had a very difficult life and never had the luxury of seeing a clown. He found that clown-starved children were following him every where. They would call, "latzon, latzon" meaning "clown, clown" every time they would see him hoping that he would perform for them. Soon he found himself busy with children's parties, Purim "shpiels", bar mitzvahs, hospital visits, and even a show for the Israeli Army.

Avraham Landau, the Jewish Clown
Avraham livens up a wedding

Here Avraham began to realize his life's goal; he began to exercise his strong desire to instill happiness in his people, a poor nation that was going from crises to crises. He found that he had the ability to cheer up even people who were chronically and terminally ill. Even now, after living in Israel for 20 years he finds many opportunities to utilize his special gift in many ways.

We may underestimate the power of joy and the healing effect of laughter. But Avraham knows, as science today is proving, that laughter is an important ingredient for good health. "Making people happy is important" he says.

Today Avraham is married and lives with his wife in a suburb of Jerusalem. He welcomes your inquiries and would be happy to perform at your simcha. You may call him at: country code: 972-2-580-7284. With Avraham, you will be assured of having a real simcha for your simcha!

Avraham Landau, the Jewish Clown
Avraham relaxs at home with his wife, Shoshana

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