Holocaust survivors glam up for annual beauty pageant in Israel

To the strains of Madonna’s ‘Vogue’, 13 women with a combined age of 1,050 walked cautiously down the runway, aided by walking sticks.
Holocaust survivors glam up for annual beauty pageant in Israel

The third annual Holocaust survivors’ beauty pageant, for women who survived the Nazi concentration camps in Germany during the Second World War, was held in Haifa, Israel, this week.

Hundreds of relatives turned out in support.

For the women, in their 70s and 80s, it was a chance to enjoy glamour and attention, having experienced horror in their youth.

“Many of them were children, teenagers, or young adults during the Holocaust,” said Jurgen Buhler, the German director of one of the show’s sponsors, the International Christian embassy in Jerusalem.

“They were either in ghettos or concentration camps. So, this night is giving them something back, which they could never experience when they were young.”

Rather than being deterred by the bright lights and loud music (Roy Orbison’s ‘Pretty Woman’), the contestants walked up and down the runway with beaming smiles, though some had to be helped by family.

The winner was Romanian-born Rita Berkowitz, 83, who, since migrating to Israel in 1951, has seen three generations grow up and now has six grandchildren and five great-grand-children.

“Maybe I will deliver a message to the entire people of Israel,” she said.

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