A 93-year-old woman who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II was crowned “Miss Holocaust Survivor” on Sunday in a special beauty pageant in the northern city of Haifa.
Tova Ringer, a great-grandmother who was born in Poland and now lives in Haifa, was chosen out of 12 contestants at the 2018 installation of the annual Israeli event.
“I’m very happy,” Ringer, who lost parents, four sisters and her grandmother during the Nazi genocide, said after her win, according to the Reuters news agency. “It’s something special. I wouldn’t believe that at my age I would be a beauty.”
Runners-up included 85-year-old Rita Kasimow Brown, 74-year-old Madeleine Schwartz and 81-year-old Tamara Weitzman.
Thousands of people were in the crowd, including ministers, Knesset members and other public figures, along with hundreds of survivors of Nazi death camps who came to cheer their fellow Holocaust survivors.
The annual competition is organized by Yad Ezer L’Haver, or Helping Hand, an organization dedicated to assisting needy Holocaust survivors in Israel.
Before the winners were announced there were shows by veteran Israeli artists Hana Laszlo and Sassi Keshet, and a performance by a choir of Holocaust survivors whose average age was 90, who sang songs about surviving the ghettos of Europe during the Holocaust.
There were also spectators from abroad. Calling it “a wonderful celebration,” Jan Fischer, 52, from Germany was quoted by Reuters as saying that “it is very important for my generation to know the history of the Holocaust, of the Shoah, and it is important for me to support these people.”
Nazi Germany’s slaughter of 6 million European Jews during World War II plays a unique role in Israeli society. Israel gained independence in the wake of the Holocaust, serving as a refuge for hundreds of thousands of Jews who survived the Nazi genocide. Today, fewer than 200,000 aging Holocaust survivors live in Israel.