When you hear the name “Mickey” you immediately think of Mickey Mouse or Mickey Mantle, but there’s a new Mickey in town. Mikki Frank, along with her sidekick Bunny, have been mesmerizing children on the internet, gaining over 4,000 followers in the last four months, with their new Detroit-based bedtime Sh’ma series “Goodnight Zoom.”
Three year old Ayla has been viewing the online sensation since its debut in August. Whenever she sleeps at her Bubby’s house she asks to watch “new Mikki” as part of her bedtime routine. She loves Mikki, but one of her favorite parts of the show is Bunny, a cuddly, 14”stuffed animal whose clothes always match the theme of the episode, and at the end of the show is tucked into bed after saying her prayers.
“GN Zoom” was created by the Jewish Community Center’s Jfamily team as a way to stay connected to the Jbaby and PJ Library Detroit families that could no longer gather in person. The internet show is geared for children ages one to five who will be captivated by Mikki’s engaging manner, beautiful voice and sweet interactions with Bunny and the viewers. Parent and grandparents will appreciate the tender simplicity of the show infused with Jewish values, stories and prayers.
Mikki is not only the breakout star of “GN Zoom” but she is also Senior Director of Jfamily. When asked where she and her team got the idea for the show she explained, “We heard from our parents that they missed community. Pre-COVID we were getting 75-100 families at our programs. Suddenly the pandemic hit and people felt isolated. They couldn’t gather with family and friends for the holidays, missed celebrating milestones together, and they desperately needed ways to engage their young children. We wanted to bring comfort in a time of uncertainty and bring Judaism into their homes.”
Originally the show was recorded in Mikki’s home using her cell phone. “My daughters and I were so new at this, we shot half an episode sideways! We now film at the JCC’s Berman Center for the Performing Arts using state-of-the art equipment. The Berman’s Senior Director, Eric Maher, has created a first-class production with our own whimsical set, great sound and twinkling starry night backdrop.”
Responding to parent feedback, the original 15-20 minute show has been trimmed to five to seven minute episodes, perfect for little ones to enjoy before going to bed. “GN Zoom” is pre-recorded so families can watch it on their own schedule. Each month’s segment will revolve around a Jewish holiday, concept or ritual and feature a PJ Library book, a song or story and end with lights out and the Sh’ma prayer.
Brian D. Siegel, Jewish Community Center’s CEO commented “We are thrilled to offer this high-quality experience for Jewish families. It is gaining in popularity, not just in Detroit but throughout the country. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mikki becomes the Mr. Rogers of the Jewish world!”
Mikki is no stranger to children’s theatre. Before working at the JCC she founded and co-operated Wonderland Entertainment, a children’s edutainment company that specialized in value-based educational theater and musical experiences for children. Mikki is dedicated to developing cutting edge engagement models to help build a thriving Jewish community for families.
“GN Zoom” has become a family affair. Mikki’s daughter Mia, who has a lovely voice, will be making frequent guest appearances. The upcoming Chanukah episode, which will begin airing on December 1, features Mia and her stuffed animal Kit Cat as they, along with Bunny learn about the Festival of Lights.
Will “Goodnight Zoom” continue after the pandemic? That’s hard to say. According to Mikki her Jfamily crew is anxious to get back to in person programs but there may always be a place for Mikki and Bunny. At least as long as mommys and daddys, bubbys and zeydes tuck their little ones in at night, turn out the lights and say the Sh’ma.
To watch Goodnight Zoom go to: The Jfamily Facebook Page @JfamilyDet or the Jfamily Detroit Youtube Channel
If you’d like more information about Jfamily, or to sign up for free Jewish books through PJ Library go to jfamily.jccdet.org