Sesame Street celebrates 50 years of educating kids worldwide

Rehov SumSum, the Israeli co-production, was the first to focus an entire section on educating children about mutual respect due to the "profound political tension in the region."

Sesame Street creator Joan Ganz Cooney poses with some of the cast during a 40th anniversary street naming celebration in New York (photo credit: SHANNON STAPLETON/ REUTERS)
Sesame Street creator Joan Ganz Cooney poses with some of the cast during a 40th anniversary street naming celebration in New York
(photo credit: SHANNON STAPLETON/ REUTERS)
Sesame Street celebrated on Sunday 50 years of teaching children through song and sketches about the alphabet, math and morals.
A prominent mainstay on US broadcaster, PBS, the show has been reproduced in different co-productions in over 70 languages and 150 countries around the world, including Rehov SumSum ("Sesame Street" in Hebrew) which aired in Israel in multiple versions since the 80s.

Rehov SumSum was the first co-production to focus an entire section on educating children about mutual respect due to the "profound political tension in the region," according to the book G Is for Growing: Thirty Years of Research on Children and Sesame Street. The series starred Kippi Ben Kippod (the Israeli version of Big Bird) and Moishe Oofnik (the Israeli version of Oscar the Grouch).
The Israeli version did a co-production with its American counterpart called Shalom Sesame, and featured guest stars including Itzhak Perlman, Sarah Jessica Parker and Jerry Stiller.
A Palestinian version of the show named Shara'a Simsim was also made in order to promote children's sense of national identity. The fourth edition of the series which aired in 2010, aimed to teach "Palestinian children - mainly boys - nonviolent ways of expression by exposing them to empowered characters who serve as role models," according to the Los Angeles Times.
The American version of the show celebrated the milestone by having the Muppet characters answer questions in short videos live on Twitter.


Sesame Street began the 50th anniversary celebrations earlier this year. The Library of Congress announced in February that it would partner with Sesame Workshop, the producer of the show, in order to preserve the 50-year-long show with an archive of nearly 4,500 episodes that will be available for the public to view in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and in Boston.
On November 9, the 50th anniversary celebration aired as a prime time special on HBO to launch the 50th season. The special will be aired on PBS on November 17th. A documentary entitled "Sesame Street: 50 Years & Still Sunny!" will air on PBS throughout December.
The show was created 50 years ago to answer the question, "Could television be used to level the playing field and help prepare less advantaged children for school?" according to a Sesame Workshop press release.
“This is a remarkable milestone for kids, for education and for television. Sesame Street has now brought the life-changing benefits of early learning to children around the globe for 50 years,” said Jeffrey D. Dunn, Sesame Workshop’s Chief Executive Officer, in a press release. “Our mission to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder knows no geographic boundaries. We’re everywhere families are, and we never stop innovating and growing. That’s what keeps us timeless.”