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May 29, 2008

The greatest gift of all—and Bunnies!

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http://www.jewishjournal.com/yeladim/article/the_greatest_gift_of_all_and_bunnies_20080528

David Rudman with his Bunnies
Photo by Stephen Morley/Disney Channel

David Rudman with his Bunnies
Photo by Stephen Morley/Disney Channel

The Greatest Gift

On June 8, we will celebrate the festival of Shavuot. What is Shavuot?

Choose the words below that make the sentences correct, and then dazzle your friends with all you've learned.

  1. Shavuot marks the day we received the (phone book/Torah) at (Mount Sinai/the library). It is one of three (harvest/birthday) festivals.

  2. We count the (omer/animals) for (13/49) days starting on the second day of (Chanukah/Passover).

  3. Shavuot was also the first day on which people could bring the Bikkurim, or the first (fruits/chocolates) to the Temple in Jerusalem.

  4. It is popular to serve (salty/dairy) foods such as cheesecake and blintzes.

  5. We also read the story of (Ruth/Esther), because it talks of the barley and wheat harvest seasons, as well as her conversion to Judaism and acceptance of the (phone book/Torah).

Answers below

The Town That Bunnies Built

"Bunnytown," the one of the newer Disney Channel children's series, has among its colorful, giggling residents an astronaut (Space Bunny Sue), game show host (Hoppy Funtooth), magician (The Amazing Harold) and musicians (the Bunnytown Band) who play everything from hip-hop -- no pun intended -- to disco and klezmer.

This "Muppets"-style variety program, created by David and Adam Rudman, teaches preschoolers -- and their parents -- about counting, shapes, vocabulary and manners, all with the help of some hoppity friends.

The U.K.-produced show, which debuted in the United States in November 2007, airs every morning as part of Playhouse Disney.

"Bunnytown" also cuts in live-action scenes from Peopletown, where a Laurel and Hardy-like duo climb a tree and pick a fruit salad (bowl included), and clowns participate in a wacky relay race during "Super-Silly Sports."

The Rudmans are no strangers to children's television. David, a 21-year veteran of "Sesame Street," received an Emmy nomination in 2003 for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series for his work as Cookie Monster and Baby Bear; Adam Rudman is a six-time Emmy-winning writer for such shows as "Sesame Street," "Cyberchase" and "Oobi."

The Rudmans, who live in the Chicago area -- where they co-founded Spiffy Pictures with "Bunnytown" co-producer Todd Hannert in 1994 -- told The Journal that "Bunnytown" is designed to "make kids laugh."

"We wanted it to be something funny for everybody," David Rudman said.

The brothers even recorded the sounds of their own kids laughing to play as the scenes change on "Bunnytown."

Since each rod puppet is only about 8-inches high, the many sets don't have to be quite as large as they would for the hand puppets on "Sesame Street."

For example, the brothers noted that a skit where Superbunny (their favorite bunny) takes a ride on a mine cart while confronting thieving Li'l Bad Bunny (their other favorite) would have been difficult to pull off with larger puppets.

The idea for the show began in 2002, when David Rudman drew a sketch of "this really funny-looking bunny with a huge overbite and really long ears." He and Adam then made some puppets out of foam and fur, which the Rudman children dubbed "giggly bunnies." The two brothers said they enjoy working with family.

"I wouldn't know anything different," Adam Rudman said. "Since we've been out of college, we've been working together."

As for what kind of humor parents can expect from the morning TV show, the brothers say they are big fans of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," Buster Keaton and producer Judd Apatow ("We've got 'Superbad Bunny' coming in," they said with a laugh).

Bunnytown airs daily at 7:30 a.m. on the Disney Channel

ANSWERS:

The Greatest Gift

1) Torah, Mount Sinai, harvest

2) Omer, 49, Passover

3) fruits

4) dairy

5) Ruth, Torah

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