Fourteen finalists gathered in Israel on Thursday night for a controversial beauty pageant called ‘Miss Holocaust Survivor’, which critics have denounced as offensive.
The psychiatrist behind the idea claims he wanted to show the world that it is possible to overcome unspeakable personal tragedy and deep psychological trauma. So he defied naysayers and staged the ceremony on Thursday night in front of 600 invited guests.
The women, ranging in age from 74 to 97, were picked out of nearly 300 applications. They represented more than 200,000 holocaust survivors from World War II who live in Israel today.
Around six million Jews were killed during the Second World War.
Organisers maintained it was not just looks but personal stories of surviving and thriving that helped the judges decide who was crowned winner.
“I have the privilege of showing the whole world that while Hitler wanted to exterminate us, we are alive and well. We’ve had special moments, we all had our children and grandchildren and are grateful it turned out this way,” said 77-year-old contestant Estee Libber.
The final winner was 79-year-old Hava Hershkovitz, who spent three years in a Soviet Union detention camp after being banished from Romania in 1941.