Feb 6, 2019

The Shalva Band pulls a Sandy Koufax

According to Mako, it is official. The Shalva Band is dropping out of the competition in "The Rising Star to Eurovision". After qualifying as one of the finalists, it seems they have already sung their final song in this forum.

The reason for dropping out is due to the requirement to perform a full dress rehearsal on Saturday, and with some of the members being Shabbos-observant, that is not possible. I suspect that even if they were not, with the "Shalva" organization at least having a religious face, even if not officially being a religious organization, I suspect they would not have been able to perform, using the Shalva name, regardless of the observance level of the participants (though that is just a guess).

Efforts were made, including by members of the government, to persuade the European broadcasting administration in charge of Eurovision to grant an exemption of some sort and arrange a work-around solution, but that has not happened.

While it is a shame they cannot compete and represent Israel, especially after showing everyone how talented they really are, they do not have to feel sorry for their decision or regret anything about this. The Shalva Band performed admirably throughout, at the highest level, and there is nothing not admirable about sticking to one's beliefs and ideals and putting that first before other things. The Shalva Band and the rest of the people involved can all hold their heads high and bask in their wonderful accomplishments, both in the success of their band and in their ability to tear down walls and show us all how people with disabilities and special needs can function as well as, or better than, anybody else.

As well, dropping out, after getting so far, in order to preserve the holiness of the Shabbos is a tremendous kiddush hashem and I am sure many non-observant and traditional Israelis will be proud of this and perhaps appreciate Shabbos observance just a little bit more because of it. Jews in America, even the non-Orthodox Jews, were so proud when Sandy Koufax refused to pitch in the first game of the 1965 World Series because it was to be played on Yom Kippur...This is no less powerful of a moment than that was.

They worked hard, they succeeded, and they changed the world. I think Israel is better off after this experience.

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