Fourteen women who lived through the horrors of World War II have paraded on stage in an unusual pageant, vying for the honour of being Israel's first "Miss Holocaust Survivor".
The contestants, ranging in age from 74 to 97, sported blue-and-white numbered sashes as they took it in turns to walk down a red carpet and describe their memories of World War II in front of an audience of 600 at a lavish 'cultural' night at a Haifa reception hall.
Hava Hershkovitz, 78, who was declared the winner, was banished from her Romanian home in 1941 and sent to a detention camp in the Soviet Union for three years.
She said: "This place is full of survivors. It puts us at the centre of attention so people will care. It's not easy at this age to be in a beauty contest, but we're all doing it to show we're still here."
But Colette Avital, chairwoman of Israel's leading Holocaust survivors' umbrella group, objected to the nature of the event, arguing it was deeply inappropriate.
"It sounds totally macabre to me," she told AP. "I am in favour of enriching lives, but a one-time pageant masquerading [survivors] with beautiful clothes is not what is going to make their lives more meaningful."
Pageant organiser Shimon Sabag insisted the winners were selected based on their life histories, with physical beauty constituting a small part of the competition.
Mr Sabag, who is director of Helping Hand, which aids Holocaust survivors in need, said: "They 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."
Israel gained independence in the wake of the Holocaust, in which Nazi Germany sanctioned the slaughter of 6million European Jews. It served as a refuge for hundreds and thousands of survivors.