Hava Hershkovitz, 79, Wins Controversial Holocaust Survivor Beauty Pageant

| by Alex Groberman

A beauty pageant organized by the Shimon Sabag organization stirred up all sorts of controversy this week. No, not because one of the participants made a blooper-esque gaffe, and not because of a contentious verdict on the eventual winner.

Why was it so controversial, then? Well, because it wasn’t your average beauty pageant.

This one had something of a unique theme.

In an event that organizers called a “celebration of life,” 14 women were selected from hundreds of applicants to compete in a holocaust survivor beauty pageant. These women, ages 74 to 97, were invited to walk a red carpet and share what they had been through – presumably to both honor their lives and to inspire others.

According to the organizer, physical appearance only made up 10 percent of the grading criteria. A four-person panel of judges was assigned to determine who would be the ultimate victor.

Hava Hershkovitz, 79, a woman who had once been forced to flee Romania for her safety, was crowned the eventual winner.

"It's not easy at this age to be in a beauty contest," told AP.

"But we're all doing it to show that we're still alive."

While the participants of this pageant clearly came away with positive impressions – the event did have its fair share of detractors.

"It sounds totally macabre to me," Collete Avital, chairwoman of Israel's Holocaust survivors' umbrella group told the AP.

"I am in favour of enriching lives, but a one-time pageant masquerading [survivors] with beautiful clothes is not what is going to make their lives more meaningful.”

Photo Credit: MSNBC

(Kudos BBC via Gawker)