86-year-old great-grandmother crowned winner of “Miss Holocaust Survivor” pageant
A pageant for Holocaust survivors took place in Israel this week, with 10 contestants competing for the title of “Miss Holocaust Survivor.” The beauty pageant is designed to honor women who survived the Nazi genocide, Reuters reports.
Contestants ranging in age from 79 to 90 competed in the showcase – which was much like other pageants. They had their hair and makeup done and wore gowns and sashes down the catwalk.
The contest, which was held at a museum in Jerusalem this year, was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. Organizers say it is meant to give respect to the dwindling number of Jewish women who endured the Holocaust and survived to rebuild their lives in Israel.
“After what I went through in the Holocaust, I never dreamed that I could get to where I am, with a big family: two kids, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. And yet here I am, at this great age, 87. It’s a godly thing, it is indescribable,” said contestant Kuka Palmon, a survivor from Romania.
Another contestant from Romania won the pageant. Salina Steinfeld, 86, moved to Israel in 1948 after surviving Nazi attacks. She is now a great-grandmother herself.
The Nazis killed 6x million Jewish people during the Holocaust. Some feel the pageant could cheapen the memory of the the lives lost, Reuters reports.
In 2012, Colette Avital, chairwoman of Israel’s leading Holocaust survivors’ umbrella group, criticized the pageant. “It sounds totally macabre to me,” she said, the Associated Press reported. “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.”
Shimon Sabag, whose organization Yad Ezer L’Haver produces the pageant, said in 2012 physical appearance contributed only about 10% of the criteria, according to BBC News.
The granddaughter of a 2021 contestant said people deserve to see “how much beauty there is in these women who went through such horror.”
“We will show them how much we love and appreciate them. Thanks to them, we have a future and we have a country,” said Dana Papo, whose grandmother Rivka competed.