Tahl Leibovitz(Outpost)
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Happiness Round-Up

Some heart-warming stories for your hump day

Adam Chandler
August 22, 2012
Tahl Leibovitz(Outpost)

Wednesdays are tough, we all know it. It’s hot out, everyone is talking about politics, and the Mets are 20 games out. To help cure it all, The Scroll bringing you some Tablet Chicken Soup to get you through the day.

First, a story about Tahl Leibovitz, an Israeli-born New Yorker, who spent time as a youth homeless and riding the New York subways.

One summer, Leibovitz slept on the street nearly every night – other times, at the beach in Rockaway and at two Manhattan branches of Covenant House, a national organization that assists at-risk youth.

Leibovitz had discovered table tennis at Lost Battalion Hall, a Queens parks department facility. He struggled to score any points in his games and waited hours for the chance to play again. At age 16, Leibovitz started winning. He did well at a tournament in Indianapolis and had found his passion.

Leibovitz found his way through table tennis and is now heading to London where he will compete in the Paralympics.

Now, at 37, Leibovitz is flying to London to compete in the Paralympics, the international event for athletes with physical handicaps that runs Aug. 29-Sept. 6. A world-class table tennis player, Leibovitz has osteochondroma, a sometimes-painful condition characterized by noncancerous bone tumors.

Leibovitz is in class 9, among the least severe physical limitations that categorize Paralympians. (Classes 1 through 5 are for those who are wheelchair users, with class 1 the most severe.) Leibovitz also has competed in standard tournaments, including the 2004 Olympic regionals, where the United States lost to Canada. He earned two bronze medals at the 1997 Maccabiah Games in Israel and plans to compete there in 2013.

Read the whole story. It’s great.

The second story (h/t Dan Klein) is about how medical clowns, which have become a big part of hospital culture in Israel, are now making inroads into Europe, the United States, and Canada. Imagine, if you must, a whole army of Patch Adams knock-offs, cheering people up.

According to the AP, about 25 hospitals in Israel keep bona fide medical clowns — all of whom, much unlike your average tent clown or street mime, have been trained to work in hospitals — on staff, and one Israeli university even offers what might be the first full-time degree program for medical clowning because any tomfoolery in a hospital has to be strictly regulated.

Apparently these clowns also help produce higher positive results for patients undergoing in-vitro fertilization.

Usually, clowns stick to the pediatric wards where their shtick will be most appreciated, but an Israeli study published last year in the journal Fertility and Sterility found, interestingly, that a woman’s chances of getting pregnant after in-vitro fertilization rose from 20.2 percent to 36.4 if a clown was paraded into the room immediately after the obstetrician implanted a fertilized egg. Maybe a clown is the last thing most Americans want to see while they’re trying to get pregnant, but it’s pretty hard to argue with science, and in this case science thinks clowns are becoming the modern world’s fertility shamans.

My sincerest apologies if you suffer from coulrophobia–the fear of clowns–because I might have just made your day worse instead of better. My bad.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.