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Can You Tell Moshe Oofnik How To Get To Rehov Sumsum?

The fourth version of Israel's equivalent to "Sesame Street" launched in December of last year, in time for Hanukkah. "Rehov Sumsum" included a slate of new characters and puppets aimed at representing a more inclusive Israel. Assistant VP for "Sesame … Read More

By / February 27, 2007

The fourth version of Israel's equivalent to "Sesame Street" launched in December of last year, in time for Hanukkah. "Rehov Sumsum" included a slate of new characters and puppets aimed at representing a more inclusive Israel.

Assistant VP for "Sesame Street" International Shari Rosenfeld asserts that the focus for the new phase of the show has shifted from "basic literary skills and Israel's multi-cultural society" to "mutual respect and understanding."

The new program will consist of 40 episodes and feature the first-ever Arab-Israeli Muppet character, 5-year-old Mahboub, who exhibits unstoppable curiosity and a musical talent. The program's creators said his inclusion is designed to contribute to the show's effort to model an inclusive Israel. Human characters will include a native Jewish Israeli, Tzachi, an Arab Israeli, Ibtisam, and Irina, a Russian Jewish immigrant who owns the street's Magic Trick Shop. She is played by Eugena Dodina, a famous Israeli actress.

"We are focusing on issues within Israeli society," Rosenfeld said. "We have a new street. It's still Rechov Sumsum, but the set is different. We worked hard to reflect Israel's landscape and to make it look like it's part of a city, with buildings and a water tank [in the background]."

Some are not so excited by Rehov Sumsum's make-over, feeling it does little to instill a sense of Jewish pride in Israel's youth. Blogger and radio personality Ze'ev Orenstein's criticism: "We, as Jews, don't need to run after Arab Muppets to become multi-cultural, when true Jewish multi-culturalism begins at home, with the Jewish People in the Land of Israel."

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