by COLlive reporter
Jewish puppetry has a firm place in the hearts of many Chabad millennials. But the niche has grown exponentially since the days of Uncle Pinchy. And now, for all the kids who are fans of the friendly, furry creatures, an even braver step has been taken–Likkutei Sichos, puppet edition.
The Shmuppets is the collaborative creation of the four young Lifshitz brothers from Boise, Idaho: Dovid, age 17, Zally, 15, Ari, 13, and Moshe , 11.
Ari is the puppet mastermind. He was making his own homemade puppets from age 6 and has steadily improved his craftsmanship since (you can learn his secrets in his tutorial video here). Dovid drafts the scripts, Zally is the funny man, and the video editor, Moshe narrates. They all do the puppeteering. To date, they have made four videos of whimsical anecdotes, a rabbi who loses his 10th piece of chametz, for example. The videos are sporadic, as half the staff is in Yeshiva under normal circumstances.
Of course, these are abnormal times. The family is reunited thanks to the pandemic, and with all the ample time, the boys decided to give their puppets a pulpit for a positive purpose, if you will. They are now partnering with Project Likkutei Sichos to bring the weekly sicha studied by thousands of Jews across the world to life through the antics of the Shmuppets.
They just released their first attempt, an adaption of a sicha on Parshas Bamidbar. The video features a bumbling delivery man who can’t quite find the proper entrance to the Beis Hamkidash, and some snippy dialogue between a Levite looking to serve and a misguided Beis Hamikdash guard.
Their father, Rabbi Mendel Lifshitz (no official role in the puppet process) explained the objective. “It’s really a way to give parents a starting point to discuss the sicha with their younger children. It sparks conversation.”
“But it’s not just for kids!” the Lifshitz brothers add.
So, for now, the plan is that every week the older boys learn the sicha together, brainstorm a storyline, write a script, and have it looked at by the Project Likkutei Sichos teachers. When they have the go-ahead, they grab their puppets and start shooting. As long as they are home-bound, they are committed to producing quality puppet content.
The weekly adaption is yet another innovative tool added to the ever-expanding offerings of Project Likkutei Sichos. “It’s all about differentiation so we can make the sicha accessible to every single person, man, woman, or child, in a way that speaks to them,” said Rabbi Shloime Greenwald, who is very involved in the project.
The impressive array of materials available on Projectlikkuteisichos.org now includes advanced classes, beginner classes, short summaries, classes by women and men in several languages, power points, translations, and now, the puppet sicha.
To subscribe to the weekly sicha by The Shmuppets, go to The Shmuppets Youtube page.
To learn more about Project Likkutei Sichos and to join the movement go to Projectlikkuteisichos.org.