This Is A Real Thing: The Miss Holocaust Survivor Pageant

Well, this sounds rather strange: Promoters in Israel organized a “Miss Holocaust Survivor” pageant. Three hundred women from across the country signed up to compete, and 14 finalists were chosen. Pageant organizer Shimon Sabag said the pageant’s popularity was a sign that it was in good taste, but Colette Avital, chair of one of Israel’s leading Holocaust survivors’ groups, said, “It sounds totally macabre to me. I’m in favor of enriching lives, but a one-time pageant masquerading [survivors] … is not what is going to make their lives more meaningful.”

The contestants were judged on their experiences in the Nazi concentration camps, community contributions,and, said Sabag, “10 percent” of the contest was about physical appearance. A makeup company sponsored the beauty portion of the event, which rankled the pageant’s critics.

“Why use a beauty contest to show that these people survived and that they’re brave?” asked Lili Haber, a daughter of Holocaust survivors. “I think it’s awful. I think it’s something a decent person shouldn’t even think about.”

In the end, a four-judge panel crowned 78-year-old Hava Hershkovitz the winner. “This place is full of survivors,” said Hershkovitz. “It puts us at the center of attention so people will care. It’s not easy at this age to be in a beauty contest, but we’re all doing it to show that we’re still here.” [Telegraph]