(photo credit: Courtesy)
Dora the Explorer became an instant smash hit among Israel's pre-schoolers when her TV show was first broadcast here just over a year ago, and now her young Hebrew-speaking fan base can bring the Hispanic cartoon character to life for this year's Purim carnival, as a black wig, orange pants, purple shirt and backpack has become the most popular costume for girls under-seven in the lead up to the festival.
Known in Hebrew as Dora Hametayelet, the show, which was initially designed to teach American children Spanish, runs on Israel's pre-school cable and satellite channel Hop!, with the English-Spanish combination changed to Hebrew-English, allowing local audiences to learn simple words in English.
"Dora, Sonic and Pucca costumes are this year's new additions," said Orna Hammer, spokeswoman for Modan, one of the largest manufacturers of Purim costumes. Sonic and Pucca are from the world of Japanese animation.
According to a survey conducted by the company ahead of the festival, which begins Saturday evening, 24.2 percent of parents said they would dress their children as an animal, 15% said a prince or princess and 13.6% as a comic book character.
Characters from last year are still popular, the company found, with Spongebob Squarepants, Bob the Builder and Pokeman being requested by boys aged three to five; and Superman, Spiderman and Batman for the five to seven age group. Princesses and brides still feature for girls four to eight, and for older girls it's Bratz costumes.
As has been the case over the last few years, costumes representing characters from the Purim story are hard to come by, and with no real demand from the secular population, the companies do not produce them, said Modan Marketing manager Mano Levi.
"We had no real requests for Jewish characters this year," he said. "Instead, we've created a bride costume or a Cinderella costume that could double as Queen Esther."