Philip Bloom with children .
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Philip Bloom is not just another clown.
He has volunteered in almost every sphere of Israeli life, taking a month each year from his regular pitch in downtown Boston to volunteer here in Israel.
He makes children smile in pediatric oncology departments of major hospitals, and on a more serious note has also volunteered in the IDF.
But his recent work with children in the South is exceptional.
Through laughter and play, he is able to determine the most damaged of children after the long years of missiles from Gaza and the terrifying race for shelter. By performing in schools, groups of primary school children with audiences of 10 or 12 special children, up to 500 people each time, Philip is able to make children feel confident, and many talk for the very first time of their traumatic experiences and their current fears.
When I asked Bloom what drives him to volunteer, he replied: “I have spent many years being Rami Salami King of the Balloon Twisters from Boston. I began my career as a clown in 1988 performing in hospitals, army bases and absorption centers throughout Israel. During the Gulf War in 1991, I became the clown I am today. As Rami Salami, I have had an amazing career performing in Japan, Spain, Argentina and over 30 countries, always returning to Israel in times of need to boost the spirits of our people.”
Since arriving in Israel shortly after Operation Protective Edge, Bloom has presented nearly 75 shows in schools across the South, including Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beer Tuvia, Ma’agalim, Netivot and Beit Hagadi. More shows are being scheduled on a day-to-day basis.
“I am volunteering my services to bring laughter and fun to kids who have lived with sirens, rockets and shelters their entire lives,” he said.
Philip brought about 90 Beanie Babies with him to give to the children. When he saw the smiles on the faces of the children when they received their “prizes” for being the saddest in the class, Bloom realized the impact these little toys had on the children and decided to begin a campaign to import these small but significant gifts from collectors all over the United States.
“After each show I ask the teachers which child has been most traumatized, and without hesitation they know,” he said. “I talk to these kids about the war and try to assure them that they are not alone: There are good people around the world who care about them.
I ask them to choose a Beanie Baby and tell them that whenever they are scared they need to hold their BBs tight and remember today’s laughter.
The enormous response gave rise to the campaign Project #BeanieBabyBubas, and nearly 1,000 Beanie Babies are waiting to come to Israel to bring a little joy to children that have lost the joy from their lives.
Bloom just needs a storeroom in the South for a short period of time as a postal address and a place to store the Beanie Babies.
“We ask that collections be sent in small packages marked as used toys with a declared value of less than $70 including postage,” he said. “What we need now is an address in Israel to which the packages can be sent. No long-term storage is necessary, as I will pick them up for distribution as they arrive.”
To contact him, email rsalami@ aol.com.
Bravo Philip Bloom! Bravo Rami Salami! Bringing a smile to young faces that have had little to laugh about is a very special gift!
Sheila Raviv is a freelance writer based in Jerusalem.