Israel Holds Beauty Pageant for Holocaust Victims

August 2, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. pageant (n.)
[paj-uhnt] – a show or exhibition in which participants are presented or displayed one after another
Example: The contestants showed the audiences their elegant gowns during the pageant.

2. screen (v.) [skreen] – to check or to test if something or someone has the right qualities for an activity
Example: One hundred people were screened but only five were chosen as contestants for the game show.

3. criterion (n.) [krahy-teer-ee-uhn] – a standard by which a judgment or score is based from
Example: The number of votes from TV viewers is one criterion in choosing the winner for the singing contest.

4. crown (v.) [kroun] –to award a title to someone as a champion or winner
Example: She was crowned as this year’s winner of the beauty pageant.

5. counter (v.) [koun-ter] – to speak in response to what someone has said, usually in defense of something
Example:  Movie critics said that the film was bad, but the director countered that the movie received much praise from audiences.

Read the text below.

As a part of this year’s Holocaust Day in Israel, a beauty pageant for holocaust survivors was organized in the country for the first time.

Around 300 women registered for the competition, but only fourteen women, aged 74 to 97, were chosen to compete. They were screened according to their personal stories of living under Nazi rule during World War II, as well as their work and service to Israeli communities.

Shimon Sabag, the pageant organizer, said that although the event was a beauty contest, physical appearance was only 10% of the criteria. The finalists were mainly judged on their survival stories by a panel of three former beauty queens and a geriatric psychiatrist.

Among the finalists, 79-year-old Hava Hershkovitz, who was a prisoner in the Soviet camp for three years, was crowned the winner.

Hershkovitz said it was not easy to join a pageant, but she and the other contestants still joined to show they are still alive.

Many critics, on the other hand, said the pageant was offensive. Collete Avital, chairperson of Israel's Holocaust survivors' group, stated that the pageant is not what victims need in order to bring more meaning into their lives.

Sabag, countered that the pageant was a good idea, as proven by the number of victims who wanted to join the pageant. Organizers also emphasized the event was a way of celebrating life.

The yearly Holocaust Day is a day of remembrance of World War II, when around 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis. At present, 200,000 survivors live in Israel.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you think this pageant was helpful to the victims of the Holocaust in some way? Why or why not?
·         What do you think are good ways or activities to remember and honor people who survived difficult times in history?

Discussion B

·         Why do you think many people have negative opinions about beauty pageants?
·         In your opinion, what are the most important criteria in judging a person’s true beauty (e.g., physical beauty, intelligence, personality)? Please explain your answer.   

August 2, 2012