Miss Holocaust Survivor

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Miss Holocaust Survivor
TypeBeauty pageant
  • Israel
Key people
Shimon Sabag[1]
AffiliationsInternational Christian Embassy
Yad Ezer L’Haver

Miss Holocaust Survivor is an Israeli beauty pageant created in 2012 for women who have survived the Holocaust. It was organized by the evangelical Protestant International Christian Embassy and Yad Ezer L’Haver. The event, held each year in Haifa, Israel, has engendered controversy.[2][3] The pageant has been held annually since 2012, except for 2014.


In 2012, the International Christian Embassy and Yad Ezer L’Haver (English: Helping Hand) joined together to create the Miss Holocaust Survivor pageant, organized by Shimon Sabag. The event, which was touted as a "celebration of life", immediately drew criticism. Sabag responded that the participants "feel good together. They are having a good time and laughing in the rehearsals. The fact that so many wanted to participate proves that it's a good idea."[1] Almost 300 participants applied to be in the competition, which was eventually whittled down to 14. The age range of the participants ranged from 74 to 97. The event was held on June 28, 2012, and attended by approximately 600 people, among them politicians Moshe Kahlon and Yossi Peled.[1] A four-person panel of judges judged the event.

In 2013, the pageant was held at the Romema Sport Arena in Haifa, Israel. The event was attended by approximately 2,500 people. Pageant judges included Pnina Rosenblum and media personality Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes.[4] 18 women participated in the pageant, aged 70 to 94.[5]

In 2015, 13 women participated in the pageant, which was held on November 24, 2015.[6] Participants told the stories of their survival to the audience.[7] One of the judges that year was journalist Lihi Lapid, wife of Israeli politician Yair Lapid, who stated, "I think we chose them by their will for life, by their energy. They were so happy to be there on stage and to tell their story. Each one of them wanted and mentioned the fact that she is here because she wants us to remember and to talk about it and to never forget. And there was something so touching by the way they just wanted us to understand that we need to celebrate life."[8][9]

In 2016, out of 300 women who applied for the competition, applicants were whittled down to 14 finalists. A choir made up entirely of Holocaust survivors made its debut at the event, which was attended by almost 1,000 people.[10] Among the attendees were Yona Yahav and Sara Netanyahu, among other Israeli dignitaries.[11] The winner, Miss Anna Grinis, was crowned to the song "Pretty Woman."[12]

In 2018, the 93-year-old great-grandmother, Tova Ringer who was born in Poland and survived the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II was chosen out of 12 finalists.[13]


Year Miss Holocaust Survivor Age at time of competition Birth Country Source
2016 Anna Grinis 75 Russia [14]
2015 Rita Berkowitz 83 Romania [15]
2013 Shoshana Kolmer 94 [4]
2012 Hava Hershkovitz 78 Romania [1]


Dalia Sivan of the Holocaust survivor's charity Amcha stated, "I'm not sure I'm happy with this beauty pageant because pageants objectify women and also because there is a sensational dimension... The survivors' suffering is on display in a very public way."[6]

Colette Avital, an Israeli politician, stated, "It sounds totally macabre to me. 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."[16]

Gal Mor, an editor of Holes in the Net, stated, "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? This is one step short of 'Survivor-Holocaust' or 'Big Brother Auschwitz.' It leaves a bad taste. Holocaust survivors should be above all this."[3]

Other critics of the pageant claim it "exploits vulnerable elderly people by putting them on show for entertainment."[6]


  1. ^ a b c d "'Miss Holocaust Survivor' pageant in Israel stirs controversy". NY Daily News. 28 Jun 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  2. ^ "Israel stages Holocaust survivor beauty pageant". BBC. 29 Jun 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  3. ^ a b Williams, Rob (29 Jun 2012). "Row erupts as 'Miss Holocaust Survivor' pageant is held in Israel". The Independent. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b Hudes, Sammy (23 Aug 2013). "94-year-old wins second annual Miss Holocaust Survivor contest". J Post. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  5. ^ Chabin, Michele (22 Aug 2013). "Beauty, pain in Holocaust pageant". USA Today. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Thornhill, Ted (25 Nov 2015). "Contestants compete in this year's Miss Holocaust Survivors Beauty Pageant… and even strut along the catwalk (with the help of walking sticks)". Daily Mail. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  7. ^ "Romania native wins Miss Holocaust Survivors Beauty Pageant". Connecticut Jewish Ledger. 2 Dec 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  8. ^ "Winner of Holocaust survivors' beauty contest: The Jew will never disappear from the world". J Post. 25 Nov 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  9. ^ "Broad Smiles, Enduring Spirit at Holocaust Survivors' Beauty Contest". NBC News. 26 Nov 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  10. ^ Harari, Renee (31 Oct 2016). "Israel Crowns Its 5th 'Miss Holocaust Survivor'". The Jewish Week. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  11. ^ "Israel's fifth 'Miss Holocaust Survivor' crowned". Times of Israel. 31 Oct 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  12. ^ Greenfield, Beth (1 Nov 2016). "Holocaust Survivors Find Recognition in Israeli Beauty Pageant". Yahoo. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  13. ^ "93-year-old crowned Israel's new 'Miss Holocaust Survivor'". Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  14. ^ "Pageant for Holocaust Survivors Crowns New Queen". Forward. 31 Oct 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  15. ^ Valente, Joanna (28 Dec 2015). "This 83-Year-Old Woman Was Crowned Israel's 'Miss Holocaust Survivor'". Kveller. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  16. ^ Zimmerman, Neetzan (9 Jun 2012). "Israel's 'Miss Holocaust Survivor' Beauty Pageant Raises Eyebrows". Gawker. Retrieved 8 November 2016.