Holocaust Beauty Pageant Held for Survivors

Celebration of Life or Trivialization of Suffering?

Tacky or Moving? Elderly Holocaust survivors competed in a beauty contest.
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Tacky or Moving? Elderly Holocaust survivors competed in a beauty contest.

By JTA

Published June 29, 2012.
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A beauty pageant for Holocaust survivors was held in Haifa, Israel, and featured female survivors walking down a red carpet and sharing details of their travails during World War II.

Fourteen women, aged 74 to 97, participated according to news reports. Romanian native Hava Hershkovitz, 79, was crowned the winner.

Organizers called the event a celebration of life, but critics denounced it as trivializing the horrors of the Holocaust.

Shimon Sabag, who organized the event, said the 14 finalists had been chosen from hundreds of applicants based on their personal stories and later roles in their communities in Israel, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation.

“It’s not easy at this age to be in a beauty contest,” the silver-haired Hershkovitz said, according to the Associated Press. “But we’re all doing it to show that we’re still alive.”

Collete Avital, chairwoman of the umbrella group the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, said “”It sounds totally macabre to me,” according to the AP. “I am in favor of enriching lives, but a one-time pageant masquerading [survivors] with beautiful clothes is not what is going to make their lives more meaningful.”


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