The Shalva Band, which is composed of eight adults with disabilities including Down syndrome, Autism, and various physical handicaps, has become one of the favorites to represent Israel in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, which will be held in Tel Aviv in May.
The band has continued to advance in the Channel 12 television show “Rising Star” (Hakochav Haba in Hebrew), an Israeli interactive reality singing competition whose winner is given the opportunity to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest.
However, Yediot Aharonot reported on Monday, the band is considering quitting the program. The reason for this is that three of its members are Shabbat observant and the band fears that, if it wins the competition and is chosen to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest, its members will be forced to violate the Sabbath due to the intensive rehearsals for the contest that require work on Shabbat.
The final round of the Eurovision Song Contest airs on television after the conclusion of Shabbat, but is preceded by a marathon of rehearsals which includes the recording of the entire contest in the event of a technical malfunction that will prevent the live broadcast from airing.
During the filming of “Rising Star” two weeks ago, the band members brought up the subject and raised the possibility that they might have to quit over this issue. The producers promised to try to find a solution should the band win the competition and be chosen to represent Israel at Eurovision.
Leading television personality Guy Pines, who hosts a daily entertainment show on Channel 12, noted on Tuesday that the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which is in charge of the Eurovision, has informed the band that there is no choice but to work on Shabbat on the weekend of the competition.
Pines noted that the Shalva Band would like to be able to prerecord their song in order to prevent desecration of Shabbat, but the EBU has refused thus far to permit this.
Pines urged the EBU to find a solution that would permit the Shalva Band to take part in the Eurovision should they be chosen to represent Israel.
“They’re so engaged with slogans about diversity and promotion and tolerance in the world. That’s also part of it – permitting religious people to take part,” he said.
The Shalva Band performs Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” on “Rising Star” (audio only):