This is a review of two new release Shalom Sesame children’s DVDs called Welcome to Israel and Chanukah: The Missing Menorah. These products are the first of a twelve part series teaching children about Jewish life and culture. I was provided review copies of the Shalom Sesame DVDs by SISU Home Entertainment, but wasn’t under any obligation to recommend them. My observations are my own.
Synopsis of the Shalom Sesame Children’s DVD Welcome to Israel
Grover is the star of this particular episode, as he ventures to Israel with his human friend Anneliese van der Pol to take in some sights and meet new friends, including a Jewish version of Oscar the Grouch. Grover has a number of mishaps with some Jewish cuisine called falafel, and gets to see sights in places like Jerusalem’s Old City via a double-decker bus tour.
In between Grover’s adventures, this children’s DVD features vignettes like Sesame Street does, but it’s Jewish-style. For instance, Count von Count counts to 12 via Hebrew numbers and there’s animated shorts on some Hebrew letters. And a Jewish boy is shown getting ready for and spending time at his friend’s house for a sleepover. The bonus features of Welcome to Israel include “Grover’s Monster Video Player”, in which a Hebrew sing along video (with English subtitles) is included as well as a sneak peek of all 12 episodes in this Shalom Sesame series. Grover’s first adventure is 28 minutes long and the extras are 22 minutes.
Synopsis of the Shalom Sesame Children’s DVD Chanukah: The Missing Menorah
Anneliese van der Pol misplaces her family’s menorah that she wanted to use for her first Chanukah in Israel. Grover and the Israeli Sesame Street gang have to scramble to find it. In between this feature, Jewish children and the Muppets cover various aspects of Chanukah, especially focusing on the connection of the holiday with the menorah and Judah Maccabee’s role. The 28 minute feature ends with a “Postcard from Grover” as the globetrotting Muppet makes a brief visit to the caves of Beit Guvrin. There are 22 minutes of bonus material, including a sing-a-long from the feature (that includes a karaoke version) plus the “Aleph-Bet Song” video in Hebrew. Teasers for all 12 episodes of this Shalom Sesame children’s DVD series are included, too.
I recommend these two children’s DVDs because kids will get an introduction to aspects of the Jewish culture and some landmarks in Israel (without any politicization) through the first two episodes in the series. The Suggested Retail Price of each of these Shalom Sesame children’s DVDs is $14.95, and is available at retail outlets like Amazon.com. The DVDs are in English (except for the Hebrew-featured pronunciations/words). For more information about this series, go to Shalom Sesame’s website here.