Shalom Sesame is an anglicized variation of Rechov SumSum (רחוב סומסום), the Israeli version of Sesame Street, which originally aired in 1983. Shalom Sesame was produced in 1986 and 1990 for public television stations in the United States, aimed at introducing Israel and Judaism to children that are not necessarily fluent in the Hebrew language, since Rechov Sumsum is completely done in Hebrew. Unlike the main Sesame Street series, Shalom Sesame was independently distributed to PBS-member stations, and not by PBS themselves.
Also, as with the American series, the series featured special guests well known to American viewers. Guests included Itzhak Perlman, Bonnie Franklin, Mary Tyler Moore, Mandy Patinkin, Alan King, Joan Rivers, Nell Carter, Jerry Stiller, Jeremy Miller, Anne Meara, Tracey Gold, B.B. King, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Paul Shaffer.
In October 2010, a new 12-part Shalom Sesame series began, with stars including Jake Gyllenhaal, Christina Applegate, Debra Messing, Greg Kinnear, Anneliese van der Pol, and Cedric the Entertainer. The new series added Mahboub, an Arab Israeli muppet, and other new characters from the 2006 revival of Rechov Sumsum. It also features the Israeli singer Ayal Ingedashet, of Ethiopian Jewish background, as the human character Lamlam in each series.
Characters from Rechov Sumsum
- Kipi Ben Kipod, a giant hedgehog (incorrectly referred to as a porcupine) analogous to Big Bird
- Moishe Oofnik, Oscar the Grouch's cousin
- Brosh, an orange monster who likes cleaning
- Mahboub, a young blue monster who speaks both Hebrew and Arabic
- Avigail, a young pink monster who likes to play and is happy with everyone
Characters from Sesame Street
- Bert and Ernie a.k.a. "Benz and Arik" (Bert Frank Oz, 1969–1998 and Eric Jacobson, 1998-present Ernie Jim Henson, 1969–1990, Steve Whitmire, 1990–2014 and Billy Barkhurst 2014-2018)
- Count von Count a.k.a. "Mar Sofer" (Jerry Nelson, 1969–2012 and Matt Vogel, 2012-present)
- Cookie Monster a.k.a. "Ugifletzet" (Frank Oz, 1969–2001 and David Rudman, 2001-present)
- Kermit the Frog a.k.a. "Kermit haTzfardea" (Jim Henson, 1969–1990, Steve Whitmire, 1990-2017 and Matt Vogel, 2017-present)
- Grover, a blue monster from Sesame Street
- Shalom Sesame Presents a Chanukah Party for Kippi is a book written by Louise Gikow, based on the Shalom Sesame series. It was published by Comet International in August 1995 as a paperback (ISBN 1-884857-06-X).
- It's a Mitzvah, Grover! by Tilda Balsley (Author), Ellen Fischer (Author), Tom Leigh (Illustrator), ISBN 0761375627
- Grover and Big Bird's Passover Celebration by Tilda Balsley (Author), Ellen Fischer (Author), Tom Leigh (Illustrator), ISBN 0761384928
- The Count's Hanukkah Countdown by Tilda Balsley (Author), Ellen Fischer (Author), Tom Leigh (Illustrator), ISBN 0761375570
- "The Land of Israel"
- "Tel Aviv"
- "The People of Israel"
- "Sing Around the Seasons"
- "Journey to Secret Places"
- "Aleph-Bet Telethon"
- "Kids Sing Israel"
- "Welcome to Israel"
- "Chanukah: The Missing Menorah"
- "Shabbat Shalom, Grover!"
- "Grover Plants a Tree"
- "Mitzvah on the Street"
- "Be Happy, It's Purim!"
- "It's Passover, Grover!"
- "Grover Learns Hebrew"
- "Countdown to Shavuot"
- "Grover's Brit Milah"
- "Monsters in the Sukkah"
- "Adventures in Israel"
In the 1990s, the entire series was released on home video, in the VHS format.
In the mid-2000s, SISU Home Entertainment, a U.S. marketer and distributor of Israeli and Jewish video, audio, book, and multimedia properties] released the entire series on a five-disc DVD set, available as a set or per disc.