Shalom SesameSpring 2012 Website
Sesame Street continues its international outreach and mission with Shalom Sesame, which includes educational material about Israel, the Hebrew language and Judaism. Shalom, the Hebrew word for peace, is used in conversation to mean both hello and goodbye. The videos in particular are well done, with a mix of Sesame Street characters (Grover and Israeli muppet characters like "Avigayil") and real kids. The videos are arranged by theme (Jewish holidays, etc.) and run approximately two minutes each. We watched videos about the upcoming holiday of Tu B'shevat (tree holiday) and about Arabs and Jews who are friends, religious and non-religious Jews who are friends, the importance of being nice to people who may or may not hold your same beliefs, the Hebrew alphabet, and other topics.
Although some of the material will connect more immediately with families who are Jewish, the website serves to introduce language, culture and customs to those who are not. As all Sesame Street products and media, the games and activities are designed for preschoolers. For example, in a matching game we matched a closeup of an "etrog" to a picture of an etrog, and it told us that "People wave a lulav and etrog together on the holiday of Sukkot." This type of information requires some context to understand, and the iconic Muppets couldn't be more appropriate ambassadors.