They say music has no boundaries and the Shalva Band, a musical group comprising musicians with special needs, proved it as they performed with musicians from the United Arab Emirates in a moving rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” intended to send a message of unity, peace and cooperation.
Shalva released a clip of the virtual performance on Facebook. The Shalva Band is accompanied in the performance by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. The song is sung in English and Hebrew by the Shalva Band and in Arabic and English by Emirati musicians, including Tareq Al Menhali. The song was produced in honor of Shalva’s 31st anniversary celebration, which was organized around the theme, “Building Bridges to the Future.” The classic tune was chosen to be the anthem for this budding partnership with Emirati musicians because of its uplifting message.
The guest speaker at the celebratory dinner for the Shalva anniversary was H.E. Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the United States and one of the key architects of the Abraham Accords. The accords have expanded opportunities and collaboration between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain.
“It is an honor to participate in the American Friends of Shalva’s 31st anniversary event,” said Otaiba. “The United Arab Emirates shares Shalva’s unwavering commitment to improving the lives of people with disabilities. In the UAE, those with intellectual disabilities or special needs are referred to as people of determination, in recognition of their achievements across different fields. The collaboration to create the special rendition of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ demonstrates how we must all continue to work together – regardless of nationality, religion or culture – to promote positive social change and foster more inclusive societies.”
The Shalva Band participated in the Rising Star to Eurovision 2019 competition, which selected Israel’s 2019 representative for the Eurovision Song Contest. The band reached the finals but when they learned they would have to break the laws of Shabbat to compete in Eurovision 2019, which was held in Israel, they chose to drop out of the competition, but were able to appear in the broadcast.
Shalva, the Israel Association for the Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, is dedicated to providing transformative care for individuals with disabilities, empowering their families and promoting social inclusion. It provides inclusive educational frameworks, social and recreational activities, employment training, and independent living, as well as respite and family support.