Miss Germany 2018 has listed its top 20 candidates and, for the first time on record, a Jewish woman has made it among the finalists.
The 21-year old Tamar Morali, a communications student from Karlsruhe, says she is proud to be a candidate in a country with a complex historical relationship to its Jewish population.
“I think I have the powerful ability to really bring awareness and a fresh focus on Jewish communities in Germany and Austria,” Morali told The Local.
Born in southern Germany to Israeli parents, Morali moved to Vienna at the age of eight and currently is studying communications in Israel, while blogging about fashion and lifestyle on the side. This summer she snagged first place at the Summer Looks competition at Vienna Fashion Week, after which she felt motivated to apply for the Miss Germany title, she told The Local.
Her role in the competition, a national beauty pageant held for the first time in 1927, signifies that Jews in Germany and Austria are “not hiding,” she says. “We’re proud to have survived and built such a large community.”
Recently, however, Jewish leaders in Germany have warned about openly identifying as Jewish amid concerns of rising anti-Semitism in the country.
Josef Schuster, head of Germany’s Council of Jews, in July cautioned the community not to identify themselves by wearing kippahs in some parts of major Germany cities.
In Germany’s September elections, the Alternative for Germany took third place in parliament. The party is commonly criticized by Germany’s Jewish community for xenophobic and anti-Semitic views expressed by party members.
After submitting an online application earlier this year, Morali took part in several interviews and photo shoots before making her way to the next round. Both the judges and other contestants were particularly interested in Morali’s background, she said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
“They asked me a lot of questions about my Jewish background and how it is to live in Germany as a Jew,” she told the newspaper.
On Sunday, online voting began for the competition, which will take place on February 24th at Europa-Park Rust in Morali’s home state of Baden-Württemberg. The winner will progress to compete for the Miss Universe title.
“I am proud to be able to be given an opportunity to represent Germany on such an important platform,” Morali adds. “For me there is the pride of being the first Jewish girl in this competition. This is something amazing and hard to describe in words.”