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 containing the lyrics, "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 presenting moral topics. There would be a "Hebrew Word of the Day" that related to whatever values were being taught. Each week Tiny Tov 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 characters of Tiny Tov and his cousin Tina Tova were created by Irv Kaplan, who later moved to Israel and was instrumental in the creation of Israeli Public and Educational Television.

There were three Tiny Tov actors in all. From 1970-1973, Tiny Tov was portrayed by Emmy-nominated actor Jerry (Jerome) Loeb. He is now living in Long Beach, CA and has appeared in over 30 stage productions in Southern California. The second player was Charles Gerber, who also created the song lyrics, and currently resides in New York City. Sr. Rabbi Joe Black, the last Tiny Tov, is currently serving Temple Emanuel of Denver, CO. Tina Tova was played by Fran (Uditsky) Moss, who now lives in Peoria, IL.

Another outreach children's program of the same name was produced and aired by WMAL-TV (now WJLA) in Washington, D.C. from 1969 to 1976, though it has no connection other than the name.

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 from 1981 to 1984. [this can't be accurate, if the production ended in 1982]

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