Dina Samteh, 22, who was born in India and is part of the Bnei Menashe tribe, says that for her, "music is everything."
Dina has been blind since the age of 6, but that has not stopped her from using her beautiful voice. Today, she is a vocalist with the Shalva Band, whose members have a range of disabilities.
When she was 10, Dina's family made aliyah from Manipur, India. She learned Hebrew through music, singing with her mother, a guitarist. As a teenager, Dina volunteered at Shalva (serenity), the Israel Association for the Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, which provides leading-edge therapies, inclusive educational frameworks, social and recreational activities, employment training, and independent living for people with disabilities. There, she met Shai Ben Shushan, the director of the Shalva Band. Ben Shushan was part of an elite army unit when he suffered a life-threatening injury 13 years ago. His successful rehab at Shalva motivated to give back to those who had helped him--and he formed the band.
The band rose to fame after entering the 2019 finals on the Israeli TV show “Rising Star,” which determines which musical act will represent Israel at the international Eurovision Song Contest. The band won, but dropped out because Eurovision rehearsals take place on Shabbat, and some of the band members are Shabbat-observant. However, Shalva was invited to performed as guest artists; their performance that went viral and changed how millions of people view and embrace disability.
Watch their performance of A Million Dreams here:
Click to learn more about the Shalva Band.
Click here to hear Dina's story.
For my just-published story about b'nai mitzvah of children with disabilities in the U.S., click here.
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Rahel Musleah was born in Calcutta, India, the seventh generation of a Calcutta Jewish family that traces its roots to 17th-century Baghdad.