Shalom Life | February 27, 2015

79-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor Wins Beauty Pageant

Controversial Pageant Crowns Native of Romania

By: News Staff

Published: June 29th, 2012 in News » World

79-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor Wins Beauty Pageant

A controversial beauty pageant for women who survived the Holocaust took place in Haifa, Israel this week, while its critics say that the idea is macabre and trivializes the horrors of the Shoah.

Fourteen survivors, ranging in age from 74 to 97, took the traditional beauty contestant’s stroll along a red carpet, but unlike Miss Universe, or Miss America, who generally speak about their superficial dreams of World Peace, these ladies shared their personal stories and memories of the Nazis. And, according to organizers, physical appearance only factored in at about 10 percent.

When it was all said and done, it was 79-year-old Hava Hershkovitz, 79, who was forced to flee her native Romania, was crowned the winner of the pageant.

Organized by Shimon Sabag organization, the 14 finalists were chosen from hundreds of applicants based on their survival stories and how, later, they contributed to their respective communities across Israel.

"It's not easy at this age to be in a beauty contest, but we’re all doing it show that we’re still alive," Hershkovitz told the AP news agency.

Those opposed to the pageant cited the fact that to judge these women, who had suffered so severely, on their looks, was not appropriate.

Collete Avital, the chair of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, Israel's Holocaust survivors' umbrella group, told AP, "It sounds totally macabre to me. "I am in favour of enriching lives, but a one-time pageant masquerading [survivors] with beautiful clothes is not what is going to make their lives more meaningful," she said.

Nearly 200,000 Holocaust survivors live in Israel today.

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