Help is on its way for Israelis with special needs - all the way from Italy. On May 8, at 8:30 p.m., the I Solisti Veneti (The Venetian Soloists) classical music ensemble will perform a charity concert at the Jerusalem Theater. The proceeds from ticket sales will go to the SHEKEL (acronym for Sherutim Kehilatiim LeAnashim Im Mugbaluyot - Community Services for the Disabled) Association which helps all Israelis, regardless of race, creed or religious leanings, with physical and/or psychological disabilities. Association chairperson Clara Feldman is naturally delighted with the Italians' willingness to help out. "The musicians were very happy to be given the opportunity to perform for charity," she said. "I also want to thank the Jerusalem Theater for providing us with such a prestigious venue to hold the concert." SHEKEL was established in 1979, as Feldman humorously points out: "before the shekel currency came into being." Today, the organization helps around 5,000 Israelis with special needs. That aid takes the form of accommodation in over 50 apartments, as well as a wide variety of artistic and other cultural endeavors as part of the Si'im project. "We have people in our apartments who, we were told by the authorities, were not capable of managing outside an institution," Feldman continues. "Today, they admit they were wrong." SHEKEL also helps its clients find employment and, to some degree, fend for themselves. "That is very important for their self esteem, and to feel they are giving something back to society too," Feldman explains. By all accounts, on a musical level too, SHEKEL has done very well to recruit the services of I Solisti Veneti. The ensemble was created in 1959 and has performed all over the world with many of the greats of the classical musical community, such as Placido Domingo, James Galway, Jean-Pierre Rampal and Mstislav Rostropovich. Over the past almost half a century I Solisti Veneti has released over 300 recordings and has won numerous awards, including a Grammy. The string ensemble specializes in Baroque music from the 18th century and will perform a program of works by Vivaldi at the charity concert. Funds from the performance will help SHEKEL to establish a new employment center in Jerusalem for people with special needs. The Venetian Soloists will also play the same program on Sunday evening, May 7, at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts.