Beloved Children’s Program ‘Rechov Sumsum” Returns To Israel After Nearly A Decade!
New Season to Feature Original Muppet Characters, Celebrity Role Models, Messages of Respect for Diversity and Hope for a Better Tomorrow.
(November 20, 2006) In an effort to provide hope and comfort to children in Israel, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, is returning the grouchy-but-adored Moshe Oofnik and his Israeli Muppet friends Brosh and Noah to the Israeli street, Rechov Sumsum. After nearly a decade since the last episode of Rechov Sumsum aired, a new season will feature known and beloved Muppet and human characters. The first Arab-Israeli Muppet character ever will contribute to the show’s effort to model an inclusive Israel in which characters engage in proactive lessons about respect for self and others within the context of Israel’s multi-cultural society.
The new Rechov Sumsum project builds on the successful educational impact and popularity of the original, while incorporating unique characters and storylines designed for children growing up in Israel today. The project’s mission is to provide a familiar safe haven for children to “visit,” create a sense of normalcy during an unpredictable time, and support the notion that respecting and appreciating diversity is the underpinning of a better tomorrow. New Muppet characters include Mahboub, a five-year-old Arab-Israeli, who emanates unstoppable curiosity, and brings his musical talent and amusing interactive games to the street, for all to learn about and enjoy; and Abigail, an inquisitive and spontaneous three-year-old girl who wants nothing more than to be part of the action, and loves helping her friends from the neighborhood. Veteran cast members include the Jewish-Israeli Tzachi and the Arab-Israeli Ibtisam, and will be joined by new neighbors including Irina, a Russian immigrant to Israel and owner of the street’s Magic Trick Shop.
Rechov Sumsum’s new season is comprised of studio segments, as well as “I Can Do It” segments, where young children from different cultural backgrounds have the opportunity to teach their favorite Muppet friends how to participate in activities that reflect the commonalities and unique aspects of their cultures such as brushing teeth, tasting new foods, or playing their favorite games. In addition, celebrity inserts feature a range of Jewish and Arab celebrities from various disciplines including the well known Jewish singer-cum-chef originally from Russia, Arkadi Dunchin; and 16-year old Arab-Israeli Soccer Player, Rim Musa. Locally-produced live-action films highlight children from all over Israel to introduce important topics such as children with exceptionalities, celebratory holidays, and family traditions through the eyes of individual children.
“With our partner Hop! Channel, we are proud to produce a program that will provide an infusion of hope to a new generation in Israel,” said Gary E. Knell, President and CEO, Sesame Workshop. “Sesame Workshop is committed to creating media that makes a difference in the lives of children and Rechov Sumsum will help Israeli children and families find their commonalities and appreciate the diversity among them, in the context of Israel today.”
“On Rechov Sumsum, we present children with reality as it can be. Reality as we aspire for it to be,” said Alona Abt, Executive Director, HOP! Channel. “We are pleased to work with Sesame Workshop on this project, encouraging children to learn and grow.”
Production of the season’s 40 new episodes was completed in September at Tel-Aviv’s Meimad Studios. The new series will premiere on Israel’s Channel Hop! on December 15th,coinciding with the Hanukkah holiday. The series will be accompanied by a comprehensive multi-media educational outreach initiative, through which thousands of materials will be distributed to Hebrew- and Arabic-speaking preschools and kindergartens throughout the country. The outreach component of the project also includes the world’s first and only Hebrew/Arabic bilingual educational website for children, parents, and educators (www.sesamestreet.co.il); and an on-screen “campaign” to promote messages of non-violent problem solving through songs, slogans, and celebrities who will address both children and parents.
Rechov Sumsum is made possible by nonprofit educational organization Sesame Workshop, and its dedicated Israeli partners, Gold Zebra Communications and Channel Hop!. Generous support was also provided by The Gruss Lipper Family Foundation, Charles H. Revson Foundation, Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds, Fohs Foundation, Foreign Affairs Canada, The Silverweed Foundation, and the Alan B. Slifka Foundation.
Sesame Workshop is a nonprofit educational organization making a meaningful difference in the lives of children around the world. Founded in 1968, the Workshop changed television forever with the legendary Sesame Street. Today, the Workshop continues to innovate on behalf of children in 120 countries, using its proprietary research methodology to ensure its programs and products are engaging and enriching. Sesame Workshop is behind award-winning programs like Dragon Tales, Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat, Pinky Dinky Doo and groundbreaking multimedia productions in South Africa, Egypt, Russia, and Israel. As a nonprofit, Sesame Workshop puts the proceeds it receives from sales of Sesame Street, Dragon Tales, Sagwa, and Pinky products back into its educational projects for children around the world. Find the Workshop online at www.sesameworkshop.org.