The members of the highly-acclaimed Shalva Band have decided to withdraw from the competition leading to the final choice of a competitor to represent the State of Israel in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv this May.
The band members – three of whom are observant and traditional Jews – chose to do so in order to avoid violating the holy Sabbath. If they were to win the competition and become the representatives of Israel in the upcoming competition, the band would face a dilemma: desecrate the Sabbath in order to rehearse for Eurovision? Or risk being forced from the contest and leaving Israel with no representation in the global contest?
The Shalva band was established as part of a non-profit organization for children with special needs. It includes eight members: Shay, the band’s director, Tal, who plays percussion and suffers from Down Syndrome. Joseph, a drum player and singer who deals with Williams syndrome, Naftali, percussionist, deals with PDD, Guy, the keyboard player who deals with blindness, as well as singer Dina and soloist Ana’el.
The group is the house band of the Shalva National Center and is comprised of eight talented musicians with disabilities who perform to the highest musical standards. Inspiring crowds throughout Israel and around the world with its musical repertoire and charm, the Band is one of Shalva’s most celebrated inclusion programs.
Shay is the band’s director. Tal plays percussion and has Down’s Syndrome. Joseph, a drum player and singer, deals with Williams syndrome. Naftali, a percussionist, deals with PDD. Guy, the keyboard player, deals with blindness, as do vocalists Dina and and Ana’el, who is also a soloist.
The Shalva Band is regularly invited to perform at cultural venues, at dignitary events, and with celebrity artists. The Band is at the forefront of popular music forums. They perform at schools and community events all over Israel, the U.S., Canada, the UK, Mexico and Russia.
During the production of “The Next Star of Eurovision” the issue of Sabbath desecration was raised with the band members – because rehearsals for the final show are, in fact, held on Saturday. But the band members themselves apparently didn’t think they would make it as far as they did, and expressed no concern, according to producers who spoke with the Hebrew-language Ynet site.
But as they reached the more advanced stages of the competition, the issue rose again. This time, the band members discussed it and decided that for them, faith rules over fame.