Shalva Band in London
Shalva Band in LondonJohn Rifkin

The Shalva Band, previously considered a favorite to represent Israel in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest that will take place this year in Tel Aviv, is quitting the program because three of its members are Shabbat observant, and would be forced to violate Shabbat as the competition rules mandate a live performance during the general rehearsing that is expected to take place in middle of Shabbat.

European Rabbis organizations have expressed support for the band's sacrifice on principle. In a statement the rabbis of Europe said, "Every Jew, whether an athlete, an artist, or a scientist, who is willing to forego a show or prize because of the holiness of the Sabbath, is worthy of singling out and praise - all the more so when it comes to a group of young people with special needs.

"At this time, when we follow the footsteps of observant people everywhere in the world, and especially in Europe, we want to see more concrete steps that will help the Sabbath-keepers in the modern world."

The Shalva Band made their international debut in 2017. It is composed of eight Israeli musicians with physical and mental disabilities such as Down syndrome, Autism and various challenges.

The Jewish community in Moscow organized a gala evening for the Shalva Institute with then Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.