December 2, 2018
The Shalva Band taking part in Israel's 'Rising Star' singing competition. Photo: Screenshot.
A band comprised mostly of musicians with special needs won over the hearts of audience members and judges alike when it performed Saturday night on the Israeli "Rising Star" television program.
The eight singers performed on behalf of the Shalva National Children's Center, a Jerusalem-based organization that provides free care, education and support to people with disabilities and their families. The Shalva Band impressed the judges with a rendition of The Beatles song "Here Comes The Sun" and advanced to the next round of competition.
The winner of "Rising Star," known in Hebrew as "HaKokhav HaBa," will represent Israel in the next Eurovision contest, which in 2019 will be held in Tel Aviv.
The founder of Shalva, Kalman Samuels, watched the band perform from the audience and was visibly moved to tears. He told the judges he had no words to describe the Shalva Band's hard work, and the opportunity they were given to showcase their talents on "Rising Star." He said, "After 13 years, I'm speechless. These guys are working day in and day out. They're amazing. And for me, there is nothing greater than this moment."
After the performance, one of the judges, Shiri Maimon, asked lead singer Anael Khalifa if she could sing "Toy" by Israeli musician Netta Barzilai, who performed the same song at Eurovision 2018, winning the competition for Israel. Khalifa was happy to comply.