Honorable Mensch-ion

When You Believe

Over a decade ago, I was introduced to SHALVA, a center for special needs in Jerusalem, which leads the way that the world understands and embraces disability. I have had the privilege to visit SHALVA on multiple occasions and witness the miracle of the impossible become possible. I have witnessed mothers and fathers turn tears into smiles, as they discovered a place where they could feel safe and find opportunities, employment, and resources that greatly improve their quality of life. When I define a Jewish hero, I often point to SHALVA founder, Rabbi Kalman Samuels, who started SHALVA after his son Yossi became part of the special needs community. 
No visit to Israel is complete without a visit to SHALVA. Yet, SHALVA has been in the media the last week for a different reason. SHALVA has a band comprised of special needs individuals. They have risen to the world’s stage by becoming finalists on Israel’s reality show, “The Rising Star.” The winner of this show would go on to represent Israel at the Eurovision contest. As the SHALVA band was handed its ticket to the final competition, a decision needed to be made. Eurovision requires a televised dress rehearsal on Friday night, the start of Shabbat, and the SHALVA band observes Shabbat. 
Our Torah teaches, “Make Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among you.” Rashi comments that this should be a house of holiness. What makes a house holy? Often, the voices inside. The band made its decision. Their belief of Shabbat would be more important than being crowned performers of the year.
The SHALVA band recently performed the song “When You Believe.” This song says, “Many nights we prayed, with no proof anyone could hear, in our hearts a hope for a song, we barely understood. Now we are not afraid, although we know there’s much to fear, we were moving mountains, long before we knew we could.”
SHALVA may not be the winner of the Eurovision contest, but they have created a sacred sanctuary for so many of us to continue to believe in the power of goodness around us.
Click HERE to watch SHALVA perform “When You Believe.” 
Shabbat shalom.

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