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The Hop! television channel last week filmed an Arabic production of Rehov Sumsum, Israel's version of Sesame Street. However, since a relatively small segment of the Arab population is hooked up to the cable or satellite services, the production will be distributed gratis to kindergartens and schools in Arab villages.
In order to ensure that the content of the show caters to the needs of the Arab children, Hop! assembled a special team of writers and advisors. The decision to produce the program came after a study showed that the existing format, whereas the Hebrew program was simply dubbed into Arabic, did not create a sense of affinity for the show among Arab youth.
Besides showcasing the usual cast of furry critters, including the inimitable Moshe Ufnik - Israel's Oscar the Grouch - the show will also attempt to impart a sense of social responsibility by raising phonological awareness.
"Our goal with the Arabic Rehov Sumsum is to expose the viewers to a range of literacy skills that constitute a potential for developing the childrens' initial ability to read, thus helping them to integrate in the community and to become active in its cultural space," said Sefyah Hasuna Arafat, one of the production advisors.