Shalva Band Advances to ‘Rising Star’ Finals, Amid Looming Shabbat Controversy
The Shalva Band, an Israeli ensemble made up of eight musicians with disabilities, on Saturday night became the first group to advance to the final round of this year’s “Rising Star” singing competition — the winner of which will go on to represent the Jewish state in the Eurovision contest, set to be held in Tel Aviv in May.
The band beat singer Kitrijah by two points with the help of audience votes after judges equally split up their own points between the contestants. The Shalva Band will now have to compete against three other acts for a spot in the Eurovision competition.
Israel earned the right to host Eurovision when Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won last year’s competition in Lisbon, Portugal, with her song “Toy.”
It has been reported that Shalva, if was chosen to represent Israel at Eurovision, might have to drop out of the competition because of the Shabbat observance of three of its members. The final round of Eurovision is broadcast live on a Saturday night, but participants must take part in a rehearsal during the day.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which produces Eurovision, has informed the band that it must work on Shabbat on the weekend of the competition. Shalva has requested to pre-record its rehearsal, but a source close to the Eurovision production told The Jerusalem Post that the EBU rarely made such exceptions and was unlikely to make changes to its schedule.
Popular Israeli singer Omer Adam in January rejected an invitation to perform at Eurovision because the Shabbat rehearsals.