The Magic Door

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The Magic Door (also known as The Magic Door Television Theatre) was a Jewish educational television series aimed at providing kiruv (outreach) to Jewish children in the Chicago, Illinois metropolitan area. The show was produced by the Chicago Board of Rabbis and premiered January 1, 1962. The show ran weekly until January 1, 1982. It aired at 9:00 AM every Sunday morning on WBBM-TV.

There were two main theme songs for the Magic Door. The first was based on an Israeli Children's song, "A Room Zoom Zoom". The second - written by Charles Gerber - was set to a melody from Beethoven's "Pastorale" Symphony No. 6: "Open, come open the Magic Door with me, / With your imagination there's so much we can see. / There is a doorway that leads to a place. / I'll find my way by the smile on your face."

The main characters of the series included "Tiny Tov" (a character "reduced" to appear as a kind of elf) and his cousin "Tina Tova". Tiny lived in a house that was made out of an acorn, the entrance was "The Magic Door". In addition to Tiny and Tina, there were other puppet characters including: Boobie Beaver, Icky Witch, Rabbi and Mrs moreh, Max the Mailbox, Rumplemyer Dragon, Bunny Rabbit, Buddy, Worthington Warlock, and many others. Before he would enter the dwelling, Tiny would sing a tune whose lyrics went,"Ah room zoom zoom, ah room zoom zoom, gily gily gily gily gily a sa sa. Come through the Magic Door with me, just say these words and wondrous things you'll see" .....and Tiny would be in the town of "Torahville".

In the early days of the series, Tiny Tov" would travel back through time riding his Magic Feather. Later on the program evolved into moral topics. There would be a "Hebrew Word of the Day that related to whatever values were being taught, Each week he would educate Jewish children on Jewish history, sharing stories from Torah and Jewish tradition.

Every episode would include a brief Hebrew lesson, stepping through the Aleph-Bet (Hebrew alphabet).

The character of Tiny Tov was created by Irv Kaplan - who later moved to Israel and was instrumental in the creation of Israeli Public and Educational Television. There was only one Tina Tova - played by Fran (Uditsky) Moss.

There were four Tiny Tov's in all. From 1970, Tiny Tov was portrayed by Emmy-nominated actor Jerry (Jerome) Loeb until he moved to California in 1973. He is now living in Long Beach and has appeared in over 30 stage productions in Southern California. The third was played by Charles Gerber, who also created the song lyrics, and later by (Rabbi) Joe Black. Gerber currently resides in New York, while Black lives in Denver, CO where he is Sr Rabbi of Temple Emanuel. Moss lives in Peoria, IL.

Another version of the program was also produced and aired by WMAL-TV (now WJLA) in Washington, D.C. during the early 1970s. Some of the original elements of the Chicago series were incorporated into the DC version.

Trivia: Actor Dan Castellaneta (the voice of Homer and other characters on the The Simpsons television series) was a semi-regular performer on The Magic Door during the mid 1970s.

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