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.
ladies. I have had the great privilege of knowing a couple of them personally. God only knows that, with all that they endured they are entitled to any nice thing that can ever happen to them. It does however strike me as tastless to hold a "Miss Holocaust" 'beauty' pageant. I think that just cheapens what all of them endured and instead turns the Holocaust into just another commercial enterprise. What's next - the 'Miss Concentration Camp of the Month calendar"?