The Israeli band Shalva has dropped out of local competition for the Eurovision Song Contest for a rather curious reason - its members refused to perform on stage on Friday night, the eve of the holy Shabbat.
The compulsory dress rehearsal for the grand finale happens to be at the time of the holy Shabbat - the last day of the week in the Jewish tradition, considered to be for resting from work, cleansing and opening up to god. Some of the band's members being religious, performing on that day would come into conflict with their beliefs.
The Shalva band consists of 8 people, the majority of whom are disabled. According to the band members, they knew from the beginning that the final stage of rehearsals was coinciding with the Shabbat, but they hadn’t given it much thought as they never really expected to reach such success and end up in the finale.
The band has earned considerable popularity with the public, so them dropping out has naturally caused a big fuss in Israel. An organization working for the protection and preservation of traditions has even offered to create special instruments for the band that would not break any Shabbat rules and allows them to play on a holy day. Israel’s Minister of Culture Miri Regev has asked the organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest to review the rules of the pre-selection competition.
According to the minister, organizers must make an exception to protect the rights of the Jewish people who wish to participate in the contest while also observing the Shabbat tradition.
However, the organizers explain that the final dress rehearsal is the most important part of the contest, as its recording will be sent to the international jury. Moreover, according to the rules, in case of any technical issues during the final performance on Saturday, it’s the Friday night rehearsal recording that will be broadcast on television instead.
It’s worth noting that not so long ago, the Israeli pop-star Omer Adam has also refused to participate in a concert because of the Shabbat. According to the singer, he’s not religious, but it’s a question of principle for him to not work during the Shabbat.
What do you think - should the Eurovision Song Contest make an exception for the band? Could their disability be a reason for this - making an exception under the excuse of letting the world see their talent, which rarely happens?
How would you describe the band’s behavior in this situation? Do you think, that the band’s decision was correct?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.