A 75-year-old Russian-born Israeli woman defeated 300 other contestants to take home the crown at Israel’s most recent beauty pageant, earning the coveted title of “Miss Holocaust Survivor.”
Anna Grinis won the title at the fifth annual Miss Holocaust Survivor beauty contest in Haifa on Sunday at a pageant that champions inner beauty—its 14 finalists, in their 70s, 80s and 90s, walked down the runway and shared their World War II stories.
Grinis, who was born two days before the war broke out, escaped Europe with her mother as a young girl. Her mother would share stories with Grinis about how the two of them ran away from Moscow, barely surviving because they had nothing to eat, the Huffington Post reported.
“Tonight we’re letting some women who survived the Holocaust have something that was robbed from them in their youth,” David Parsons of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, a sponsor of the event told The Huffington Post. “We want to give something back to them tonight it’s for them to enjoy.”
Yad Ezer L’Haver, or Helping Hand, a group dedicated to helping Israel’s needy Holocaust survivors organized the event.
With their hair styled and faces all made-up, the 14 elderly finalists carefully strutted down a red catwalk, blowing kisses and stopping for photographs while songs like “Pretty Woman” played in the background. The program also featured the first-ever performance by a women’s choir comprised of Holocaust survivors. The choir, whose average age is 91 years old, sang Holocaust themed songs about surviving Europe’s ghettos, Israeli media reported.
Following the pageant, a lavish dinner was served. Nearly 1,000 people attended the event, including members of the Knesset, Sara Netanyahu, and Haifa’s mayor.
Approximately 200,000 Holocaust survivors live in Israel.