‘Miss Holocaust Survivor’ crowned in Israel

Mania Herman, a Holocaust survivor participates in a "Miss Holocaust Survivor" beauty pageant, in the northern Israeli city of Haifa.
Mania Herman, a Holocaust survivor participates in a “Miss Holocaust Survivor” beauty pageant, in the northern Israeli city of Haifa.
By Sebastian Scheiner, AP

HAIFA, Israel (AP) — Grinning and waving, 14 women who survived the horrors of World War II paraded Thursday in an unusual pageant, vying for the honor of being crowned Israel’s first “Miss Holocaust Survivor.”

Billed by organizers as a celebration of life, the event also stirred controversy. In a country where millions have been touched by the Holocaust, many argued that judging aging women who had suffered so much on physical appearance was inappropriate, and even offensive.

“It sounds totally macabre to me,” said Colette Avital, chairwoman of Israel’s leading Holocaust survivors’ umbrella group. “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.”

Pageant organizer Shimon Sabag rejected the criticism, saying the winners were chosen based on their personal stories of survival and rebuilding their lives after the war, and physical beauty was only a tiny part of the competition.

“They feel good together. They are having a good time and laughing in the rehearsals,” said Sabag, director of Yad Ezer L’Haver, or Helping Hand, which assists needy Holocaust survivors and organized the pageant.

“The fact that so many wanted to participate proves that it’s a good idea.”

Nearly 300 women from across Israel registered for the competition and contestants were whittled down to the 14 finalists who appeared Thursday.

The contest, part of Helping Hand’s annual “cultural” night, included a lavish dinner and music at a Haifa reception hall. Some 600 people attended, including two Cabinet ministers, Moshe Kahlon and Yossi Peled, himself a Holocaust survivor.

The women, ranging in age from 74 to 97, clearly enjoyed themselves. Wearing black dresses, earrings and necklaces, and sporting blue-and-white numbered sashes, they grinned and waved as they were introduced to the adoring audience. Music played as the contestants walked along a red carpet, introduced themselves and described their memories of World War II.

“I have the privilege to show the world that Hitler wanted to exterminate us and we are alive. We are also enjoying life. Thank God it’s that way,” said Esther Libber, a 74-year-old runner-up who fled her home in Poland as a child, hid in a forest and was rescued by a Polish woman. She said she lost her entire immediate family.

A four-judge panel consisting of three former beauty queens and a geriatric psychiatrist who specializes in treating Holocaust survivors chose the winner. Hava Hershkovitz, a soon-to-be 79-year-old, was banished from her home in Romania in 1941 and sent to a detention camp in the Soviet Union for three years. Today, she lives in an assisted living home run by Helping Hand.

“This place is full of survivors. 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,” the silver-haired Hershkovitz said.

Wearing a glittering tiara, she was joined by her granddaughter, Keren Hazan. “I’m very proud of her because she’s the most beautiful woman in the room tonight,” Hazan said.

In addition to the contestants’ accounts of surviving Nazi ghettos and concentration camps, their later contributions to their communities were also considered, Sabag said. Physical appearance was maybe “10 percent” of the criteria, he said, though a cosmetics company was recruited to help the women dress up for the occasion.

“We always tell them to dress well and look good. To think positive and to take care of themselves,” Sabag said. “Always look at life with a smile and continue to live.”

The thought that physical appearance could even remotely be a factor rubbed some the wrong way. Avital, of the Holocaust survivors’ umbrella group, criticized the cosmetics company, saying it was using Holocaust survivors in a cheap marketing stunt to promote their products.

“Why use a beauty contest to show that these people survived and that they’re brave?” wondered Lili Haber, a daughter of Holocaust survivors who heads an Israeli organization that assists survivors from Poland. “I think it’s awful. I think it’s something a decent person shouldn’t even think about.”

The Holocaust, in which Nazi Germany oversaw the systematic slaughter of 6 million European Jews, plays a unique role in Israeli society. The country gained independence in the wake of the Holocaust, serving as a refuge for hundreds of thousands of people who survived the genocide.

Nearly 200,000 aging survivors live in Israel today, and the country’s annual Holocaust Day is one of the most solemn occasions on the calendar. Restaurants and cinemas close, and the country comes to a standstill as sirens wail for two minutes. Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, frequently make references to the Holocaust when discussing the threat they believe a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to the Jewish state.

Thursday’s contest was among the many unconventional beauty pageants that have sprouted up over the years. The war-torn countries of Angola and Cambodia have held “Miss Landmine” contests for survivors of land mine explosions, Star Trek fans enjoy the “Miss Klingon Empire” contest in Atlanta, and plus-sized women in Thailand compete for the honor of “Miss Jumbo Queen.” There are also a senior citizens’ pageants in the U.S.

Gal Mor, editor of the popular Israeli blog “Holes in the Net,” said Thursday’s pageant was well-intentioned but misguided.

“Why should a decayed, competitive institution that emphasizes women’s appearance be used as inspiration, instead of allowing them to tell their story without gimmicks?” he wrote. “This is one step short of ‘Survivor-Holocaust’ or ‘Big Brother Auschwitz.’ It leaves a bad taste. Holocaust survivors should be above all this.”

  1. #1 by giana on 07/01/2012 - 9:34

    Yeah I read this… and made a comment with not sure how many thumbs down as of today, last count it was 10. 😉

  2. #2 by ruby22-kate on 07/01/2012 - 9:34

    There is so much to be talked about in this mixed bag of fantasy, conjecture, bold lies and attempts to rewrite the narrative on history.

    Exactly what is the criteria, what is required to be a holocaust survivor? What about the Gentiles who are holocaust survivors, why are they ignored?
    Is it enough to have one grandparent either confined by Nazis or unjustly imprisoned or murdered to qualify as a ‘h.s.’:?

    As far as physical appearance goes, I’ve read that people who attempt to groom themselves under stressful conditions fare better, for a number of reasons. It turns out that ‘Cleanliness’ is next to Godliness’ imho. Grooming keeps you on a schedule, others respond better, even your adversaries, because cleanliness shows respect for yourself as well as others. So while it is crass to be pushing any products at an event like this, woman have been conditioned to consume make up so if a dab of mascara makes you feel better, go for it.

    This event, I want to compare it to say if the Irish, annually celebrating the glorious potato famine.
    Wasn’t it wonderful to see the starving wretches burying their babies, or standing in line at the work house for a bowl of gruel, with the elites grumbling about such absurd charity, after all the world is a jungle, survivor of the fittest et al.

    It could have gigantic floats recalling the ‘coffin ships’ that the Irish, for ‘indentured servitude’ could sail across the Atlantic in barbaric, meager conditions, looking forward to a live of slavery, hopefully there will be abundant food. To scatter the Irish to the new world as cheap labor at best.

    And light some pyrotechnics to celebrate the fact that though there was indeed a blight on potato, there was food exported to Britain throughout the entire perior.

    Does anyone here think that would be a good idea? It makes as much sense as Whooopi yi yay, the holocaust.

    Next year we could have miss British Petroleum Oil Disaster Queen, a sort of joke on us peasants.

    What exactly constitutes a “Holocaust Survivor”?
    Or are they trying to use them while they can, no one will believe there are any more survivors after the next twenty five years. Maybe even the whole operation will have become public knowledge by then? Wouldn’t that be grand?

  3. #3 by Al Hind Sipahi on 07/01/2012 - 9:34

    This is just too wierd!

  4. #4 by Vickie Jacobs on 07/01/2012 - 9:34

    Let’s see. How about a Miss Survivor of those who finally wake up to all these lies.

  5. #5 by Naeem on 07/01/2012 - 9:34

    Yes there’s certainly no buisness like shoah buisness. These filthy zionists will pimp out their own mothers for a dollar. sick

  6. #6 by abdurrahman on 07/01/2012 - 9:34

    Anything to remind people that 6 billion Jews died during World War II, a War in which no other people died. Also this events reminds us all why 6 trillion Jews died: because the ‘Goyim’ were jealous of Jews and hated ‘their freedoms’. Furthermore, we should never forget the Jewish saying in regards to the slaying of 6 zillion Jews, ‘never forget’. That’s right folks never forget!

  7. #7 by Bill on 07/01/2012 - 9:34

    What a joke.
    The prize shouldve been soap and a canister of bug spray ie Zyklon B..

    Jews are still angry at Hitler for hanging a sign outside of Auschwitz that said WORK MAKES YOU FREE!
    He had a sick sense of humour.

  8. #8 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on 07/01/2012 - 9:34

    Old yenta’s helping to promote lies!

  9. #9 by on 07/01/2012 - 9:34

    The tallest tale wins.

  10. #10 by Ponders70 on 07/01/2012 - 9:34

    Wow! Leave it to the jews. How
    positively repugnant a concept. The
    poor taste of the God awful tribe knows
    no limits.

  11. #11 by Gino Santana on 07/01/2012 - 9:34

    It’s deplorable. But leave it to a country full of perpetual victims full of hate,and violence, with this kind of madness, is the norm.

  12. #12 by 1776blues on 07/01/2012 - 9:34

    Its amazing how they flaunt the never ending hoax of the 20th century. But then again, these people aren’t normal. In reality, they are celebrating the fleecing of the gentiles!

  13. #13 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on 07/01/2012 - 9:34

    Old HoloHags!

  14. #14 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on 07/01/2012 - 9:34

    Zyklon B and the German Delousing Chambers

    Today at the former German concentration camp at Dachau, it is no longer claimed that Jews or anyone else were ever killed in the gas chamber there. In the room that is supposedly a gas chamber, one can clearly read a sign written by the museum authorities in five languages which says, “THE GAS CHAMBER disguised as a ‘shower room’-never used as a gas chamber.” [1] Although the room was completed in 1942, it was never used for its intended purpose-presumably, it was used for other purposes; perhaps it was used as a shower room after all.



  15. #15 by on 07/01/2012 - 9:34

    The Germans forced us to eat foreskins when we were starving!

  16. #16 by Jung Gehr on 07/01/2012 - 9:34

    They were all gassed and they all survived !! The number of holocost victims grows each day !! Guys who are doing tattoos are making a fortune !! Get yourself a number tatttooed on your arm and catch big money !! Your chances of survival in Auschwitz Holiday Camp were much much greater than the chances of those who lived in Dresden !!

  17. #17 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on 07/02/2012 - 9:34

    HOLOCAUST Documentaries

    The Movies that Make a Difference!

    Proudly Present by The Barnes Review


  18. #18 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on 07/02/2012 - 9:34

    Jewish man charged with hate crime for spray painting swastikas and making anti-semitic threats

  19. #19 by Ingrid B on 07/02/2012 - 9:34

    the “chosen” are seriously weird..

  20. #20 by Goozidi Bepanagoozi (@goozidi) on 07/02/2012 - 9:34

    There was no holocaust.

  21. #21 by on 07/02/2012 - 9:34

    With so many survivors, who needs a real holocaust? Does the number increase every year?

    Those media sirens wail, ‘all year long.

    Survivor-Holocaust! xD

    Big Faather Ouchwitz.

  22. #22 by michael mazur on 07/02/2012 - 9:34

    Norman Finkelstein in the Holocaust Industry said – paraphrasing, that by the year 2000 there were 1,000,000 survivors, which turns actuarial calculations on their head, as in 1945 when the gates were opened there were some 100,000 survivors who emerged, and so some 55yrs later some 30,000 should have remained.

    Why then did the number balloon out 30 fold to a million ?

    There was an item in the Australian Jewish News in the late 90s (i’m sure reprinted from elsewhere) to the effect that a ruling was accepted that all the Jews who were in occupied Europe were now deemed Holocaust Survivors – not just those who emerged from the camps.

    An attempt was mooted before then to make children and grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors full fledged Holocaust Survivors in their own right because of the trauma of having to daily endure Holocaust stories at home !

    It was not well received by the Germans, it seems.

  23. #23 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on 07/02/2012 - 9:34

    Zion’s Big Lie – The Six Million Myth


  24. #24 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on 07/02/2012 - 9:34

    DHS allocates nearly $10 million to Jewish nonprofits takes money from Gentile Americans



    The Department of Homeland Security has allocated $9.7 million to Jewish organizations and facilities considered vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

    The funding, announced on Friday, came from the DHS’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which aids nonprofit organizations that are at risk of terrorist threats, and helps those organizations coordinate with broader security initiatives. This round of funding was the program’s seventh allocation since its creation in 2005. The program has distributed a total of $128 million during that time, according to a Jewish Federations of North America press release.

    “We are grateful that the Nonprofit Security Grant Program has emerged to supplement the work of local and federal law enforcement to help keep us safe,” said William Daroff, JFNA’s vice president for public policy, in the press release. JFNA has advocated for continued DHS funding to nonprofit organizations.

  25. #25 by Garibaldi on 07/02/2012 - 9:34

    Can’t help but wonder if “Diamond Girl” Irene Zisblatt was a contestant…

  26. #26 by ruby22-kate on 07/02/2012 - 9:34

    #22 Michael, I did seriously want to know what constituted a ‘holocaust survivor.’
    It’s dismaying to see such a bigoted law as the one you cited, that all Jews in occupied Europe are ‘h.s.’
    It was my understanding that Gypsies, homosexuals, communists, catholics, and disabled were also specifically targeted in WWII.
    just about anyone could have been picked up when Europe was under occupation–yet the above mentioned are omitted from the benefits of said law.

  27. #27 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on 07/02/2012 - 9:34

    These people will do anything to keep that stupid holocaus liet going forever!

    Study: Holocaust trauma affects grandchildren of survivors
    According to the study, young men and women born in Israel 40 years after WWII suffer greater emotional difficulties than does general population.




  28. #28 by troy doophis6 on 07/02/2012 - 9:34

    And not one of them ever saw the inside of those holiday / work camps.

  29. #29 by Isaac on 07/03/2012 - 9:34

    The “chosen” are not olny weird but they are a bunch of greedy liars and diabolical creatures. They invented the “Holocaust” in order to get billions of dollars from the EU and the US. The “chosen’s” perversity has no limits.
    However they have done their own holocaust against a Nation since 1947. “The Palestinians”.

  30. #30 by ruby22-kate on 07/03/2012 - 9:34

    Where are all the Gentile holocaust survivors? OOps guess they forgot to demand their own state, say we could give them Normandy, with its lengthy coast, prime territory for smugglin’ or just carve up the Balkans even more.

    If there are Jewish holocaust survivors then there has to be Gentile survivors and their children and grandchildren, why are they omitted from all these psychological studies as if they are non-persons.

    And if there are not Gentile survivors — where the hell did alls these Jewish survivors come from? The camps were liberated in ’44, so even if you were a newborn infant you’d have to be 67 yrs.old. And there is no group in the world celebrating the physical appearance of geriatric folks.

    Was this a fund raiser? Or just an opportunity to push skin care products and make up, for the ever ambition of parting us from our money.

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