Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz
Shalva, a band made up of eight musicians with disabilities, was chosen by fan votes to represent Israel in the next international Eurovision competition but may back out rather than perform at the contest which will be held on Friday night.
The band won the final round of the Israeli talent contest “A Rising Star” on Channel 12 on Saturday night. After the judges were split, the audience voted, giving Shalva a two-point victory that earned them the right to represent Israel in the Eurovision contest. The annual Eurovision song contest will take place in Tel Aviv, from May 14-18 2019. Israel earned the right to host the competition last year after Netta Barzilai won with the song “Toy” in Lisbon on May 19.
Three of the band members are Sabbath observant. They turned to the Tzomet Institute which innovates technological solutions to questions in Jewish law, inquiring if a special microphone could be used that does not cause the singer to violate the Sabbath. Such a microphone was developed but Jewish law permits it to be used only in the case of medical necessity. Not only will segments of the show be performed and recorded on the Sabbath but rehearsals will also require Sabbath desecration.
The band made a special request from the Eurovision organizers to pre-record their performance but a source close to the Eurovision production told the J-Post that exceptions like this are very rare for the European Broadcasting Union, and it is unlikely the EBU will allow a change to its tight schedule.
Omar Adam, a popular Israeli singer, also turned down an invitation to the Eurovision contest. Though he is not religiously observant, Adam makes a point not to perform on the Sabbath.
The band is made up of Deena, an immigrant from India, and Annael, an immigrant from France, the band’s lead singers who are both blind. Yosef has Williams syndrome, Yair and Tal have Down syndrome, and Guy is visually impaired. Shai, the band’s manager, who helped found the group after a long recovery from a serious injury sustained during his IDF service, also performs, as does Sarah, the daughter of Kalman and Malki Samuels, the founders of the Shalva Center.