Recap: Israel’s “The Next Star for Eurovision 2017” (Week 2)

Another week, another opportunity for sob stories, over-the-top eccentricity and raw talent on Israel’s The Next Star for Eurovision 2017. Week two of Israel’s national selection show didn’t disappoint as we met several new artists with big dreams and emotional personal histories. Grab the tissues and let’s do this…


Yonit Zaidenberg
Yonit is a 21-year-old with an amazing life story — and not merely because she’s Genderqueer. She was also born as a man (Yonatan) in a family of Orthodox Jews.

Yonit lived as a male and followed a strictly Orthodox lifestyle until the age of 15. Then she decided to lead a more secular life and started the process of coming out. Her mom didn’t fully accept her new lifestyle, and eventually passed away following a car accident. Yonit felt guilty and somehow responsible for the death of her mother, and struggled to pull herself together. But thanks to her father she is now happy and positive, as he accepts her just as she is, even though he remains strictly Orthodox (and defines her as a male).

During her audition the judges grew quite emotional — because of her story, but also because her voice was really quite impressive. When she made it through everyone felt emotional — especially her father who cheered from the audience before coming on stage to give her a hug. She left the judges in tears — and viewers speechless.

Audition score: 85% (votes from four judges)

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Helen Kalandadze
Originally from Georgia, she’s been living in Israel for the last nine years and believes that representing Israel at Eurovision would demonstrate that multiculturalism exists in Israel. She made everyone dance and passed her audition quite easily. We want more of her for sure!

Audition score: 90% (votes from four judges)


Julieta has been a singer in Israel for more than a decade and she’s had a string of hits along the way. But she’s consistently faced obstacles and has never managed to cement her place in the industry, putting her on the brink of quitting music several times.

In 2013 she took part in Kdam Eurovision 2013 (Israel’s national selection for Eurovision) but failed to reach the final. She sang “Fantasia”, which was written by Israeli hit-maker Doron Medalie.

Over the last couple of years she’s worked as a sales manager, but Eurovision and music remain her biggest passions. In her audition she didn’t totally convince the judges, but she still managed to pass to the next round. Will her fantasy finally come true in 2017?

Audition score: 72% (votes from two judges)


Yona Shavin
Yona’s original plan was to study architecture but then she realized she didn’t want to be in an office for the rest of her life. She is currently working as a street singer, and loves the connection with the people. Eurovision would expand her audience from dozens to millions. The judges weren’t that sure of her audition, but they believe that she has real potential, so they let her pass with the hope that she will slay next time.

Audition score: 79% (votes from three  judges)


Yosef Gal
He’s only 16 years old and has barely had contact with his father over the last four years. That’s because his deeply religious father doesn’t accept his son’s lifestyle and values. The lyrics of his audition deal with this exact issue — the disconnect between a father and a son. The judges just couldn’t help but cry after hearing his beautiful voice, paired with touching lyrics.

 Audition score: 91% (votes from four judges)



Which artist do you like the most so far? Who do you think would do well for Israel at Eurovision?