A beauty pageant was held in Israel. Unlike a typical pageant, the contestants were not women in their early 20s with model-like figures. The 14 participating contestants were actually Holocaust survivors.
All the women were between the ages of 74 to 97. The contest was held in the city of Hafa, and each contestant walked in front of a red carpet and described the grisly details of their personal experience during their detention in the concentration camps.
After listening to personal accounts, a four panel judge awarded the crown to 79-year-old Hava Hershkovitz, who was forced to flee her home in Romania with her family.
While the pageant was clearly held to honor the victims – both the ones who perished as well as those who lived to tell their tales – not everyone sees it that way. Critics are slamming the event as being in poor taste as well as being outright offensive.
The pageant was organized by Shimon Sabag, who said the finalists were selected based on their personal experiences as well as contributions to their communities. While physical appearance did play a role in the selection, Sabag insists the role was minimal.
After being crowned the winner, Hershkovitz says that for her, this was her way of showing that she is still alive and well.
However, Collette Avital, the chairwoman of Israel’s Holocaust Survivors, says that it was not appropriate to judge these women based on their appearances, especially considering the harrowing experiences they endeared.
Roughly six million Jews were slaughtered in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. About 200,000 Holocaust survivors are still living today, with most of them residing in Israel.
Though there are mixed feelings about the pageant, it should not take anything away from the participants, who experienced a living nightmare that no one can even come close to relating to unless they’ve experienced it first hand for themselves.