israel | rechov sumsum

Meeting the neighbors on Israel's Sesame Street.

Children’s Education Initiatives in Israel | Meeting the neighbors

A much-loved program in early 1980s, Israel’s locally produced version of Sesame StreetRechov Sumsum, returned to the air in 1998.

Rechov Sumsum encourages mutual respect and understanding among the country’s culturally and religiously diverse communities, while delivering other key aspects of children’s education, including Hebrew literacy and vocabulary and coping with emergency situations. The show’s stories model peaceful problem solving and cultural acceptance on a “rechov,” or street, where Israelis of different ethnic and religious backgrounds live.

By exposing children to neighbors they may not otherwise have a chance to meet, Rechov Sumsum offers a model of shared society, reflecting both the country’s diverse reality and the pluralistic ideal. After watching Rechov Sumsum, children from both Jewish and Arab backgrounds are more likely to suggest democratic solutions to resolving conflict, such as talking instead of using force.1 Broadcasts are complemented by educational outreach materials in both Hebrew and Arabic languages for kindergarten and preschool classrooms.

Major funding for Rechov Sumsum is provided by the Gruss Lipper Family Foundation, American Greetings Corporation, and The Ted Arison Family Foundation.  Additional support is provided by The Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds, the Bernard van Leer Foundation, the Righteous Persons Foundation, the Fohs Foundation, the Crown Family Philanthropies, the Guela Charitable Trust, the Rosenzweig Coopersmith Foundation, the Alan B. Slifka Foundation, and the Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation.

1 Walden, T., Arafat, S. H., Yahia, G. H., Sandbank, A., Wertheim C., & Zimmerman, H. (2009). The contribution of initiated viewing of Rechov Sumsum to the social perceptions of kindergarten-aged children. Beit Berl, Israel: Beit Berl Academic College.