Shalva Band (Courtesy/Keshet) Shalva Band (Courtesy/Keshet)
Shalva Band
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Tell Eurovision organizers that inclusion also means respecting the right of Jews to observe the Sabbath! 

The Shalva band has taken Israel by storm over recent months. Various members of the group are blind, visually impaired, or suffer from such disorders as Williams syndrome and Down syndrome.

They wowed the celebrity panel of top Israeli singers on the Channel 12 program, Rising Star. As a result, the band from the Shalva Center was on the verge of representing Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest, scheduled to take place in May in Tel Aviv.

However, on Wednesday the band was forced to pull out. The reason: the Jewish Sabbath, observed from sunset on Friday until nightfall on Saturday. The Eurovision organizers insisted they attend a Sabbath rehearsal in order to compete.

Jews throughout the ages have sacrificed for the observance of their day of rest. And they have paid for it. Jews have lost out on workplace advancement and even been fired for observing a day of rest different from that of the surrounding societies in which they lived.

One would think this couldn’t happen in the Jewish state.

Popular Israeli singer Omer Adam had already turned down an offer to perform as part of the entertainment at the song contest because he, too, objected to being forced into preparations that are set during the hours of Shabbat.

Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, contacted the European Broadcasters Union in order to negotiate a solution. This was followed by an invitation to the band to appear during the semi-final held on a Thursday evening, which does not involve Shabbat desecration. But they still cannot compete at the Eurovision competition.

Israel earned the right to host this year’s Eurovision Song Contest as a result of winning last year’s competition with Netta Barzilai’s “Toy,” a song which celebrates inclusion. Yet many Israelis are now asking why inclusion does not include accomodating diverse religious observance and traditions, such as the Jewish sabbath.

That it is Israel that must bend to Eurovision’s wishes when the event is being held in the Jewish State raises eyebrows all the more.

Tell Eurovision organizers that inclusion also means respecting the right of Jews to observe the Sabbath! 

Here’s what you can do:

1. Message them on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EurovisionSongContest

2. Write to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which runs Eurovision. info@ebu.ch

Demand that they accomodate the special-needs band!