July 15, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
July 15, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Congregation Etz Chaim to Host Shalva Band of Jerusalem

Yoni Glatt, youth director at Congregation Etz Chaim of Livingston for the past eight years, invites the community to an inspiring event on Saturday night, November 4. At the Melave Malka event of the NCSY Shabbaton planned for Shabbat Parshat Vayera, the inspirational Shalva Band of Yerushalayim will perform. Seven members of the widely acclaimed band composed of young adults with varied disabilities, accompanied by their director and manager, Shai Ben Shushan, will thrill the audience with their renditions of Hebrew and English selections.

Of the 13 members of the Shalva Band, seven, including two women and five men, will embark this week on an international tour of communities including Toronto, Montreal, New York, New Jersey and Mexico City. Following their return to Israel, they will perform in Russia and London. The participants, all gifted musicians who have trained with Shushan at Shalva, manifest a variety of disabilities including autism, Down Syndrome and blindness, some from childhood.

The two female vocalists of the band, Dina Samteh and Annelle Kalifa, both 18, are totally blind. Their mastery of song and presentation is incredible. Both young ladies are currently doing their Sherut Leumi service at Shalva, where they impart the love of music to the youngsters. Yair Pomberg, 26, who performs rap and percussions, and Tal Kima, 19, percussionist, have Down Syndrome. Yosef Ovadia, 18, vocals and drums; Guy Maman, 29, vocals and keyboard; and Naftali Weiss, 23, vocals and percussion, manifest different disabilities including autism. Together their music lifts the spirit and inspires the soul.

According to Deena Levenstein, coordinator of the Shalva Jerusalem Marathon and currently assisting with the Shalva Band Tour, “The purpose of the tours is twofold. First, they afford the band members the opportunity to see the world while feeling appreciated and admired. Secondly, they raise awareness of Shalva’s goals and accomplishments for close to three decades.”

On May 10, 2017, Shalva dedicated its new, state-of-the-art, 200,000-square-foot campus adjacent to the new Route 16 Highway in Jerusalem. Brimming with cutting-edge educational, therapeutic, recreational and vocational facilities, it is set within six verdant acres of inclusion parks, which are open to the public, allowing children of all abilities to play and grow together.

Founded in 1990 by Malki and Kalmen Samuels to be a therapeutic environment in which children with disabilities could grow and thrive, Shalva now provides services to over 850 participants with disabilities through a plethora of individually tailored programs and round-the-clock therapies, provided completely free of charge, seven days a week.

Shalva’s founding was an act of faith and thanksgiving by the Samuels when their son Yossi, left blind and deaf and acutely hyperactive as a result of a faulty vaccination, “broke through his wall of silence at age 8 to pursue a rewarding and contributing life.” The Samuels vowed to provide the best possible treatments for youngsters suffering from life-altering disabilities at no cost to their struggling families.

To date, Shalva has received numerous awards for its outstanding service to the disabled community, including the President’s Prize for Excellence, the Jerusalem Foundation Prize in Honor of Teddy Kollek for Leadership and Public Excellence and, most recently, the Ministry of Education Outstanding Volunteer Award.

Mr. Samuels’ vision of forming a Shalva Band from current and former students of Shalva’s Music Therapy Program has resulted in an internationally reputed musical ensemble that has performed for the president and prime minister of Israel, visiting heads of state and dignitaries and audiences throughout the world. Director and manager of the Shalva Band, Shai Ben Shushan, a disabled IDF veteran, has taken the band to new heights of professionalism as they perform three to four times weekly throughout Israel. In the words of Ben Shushan, “The Shalva Band is a family. It gives strength and love and connects so many different worlds. Everyone contributes to this amazing musical production.”

From Jerusalem, Levenstein added, “Everything done by the Shalva organization is done with the highest level of excellence. The Shalva Band is no exception. From their shoes to every note of their renditions, the band displays nothing less than excellence.”

This one-of-a-kind concert experience for the entire family is planned for Saturday night, November 4, at Congregation Etz Chaim, 1 Lafayette Drive, Livingston. Doors open at 7:45. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and $36 per family. For tickets, contact [email protected].

By Pearl Markovitz

 

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles