Yityish Aynaw, a former Israeli army officer, has become the first Ethiopian-born Israeli
to win the Miss Israel pageant.
A panel of judges awarded the title to
Aynaw, a 21-year-old model who came to Israel about a decade ago, at the
International Convention Center Haifa on Wednesday.
"It's important that
a member of the Ethiopian community wins the competition for the first time,"
she was quoted by Israeli media as telling the judges in response to a question.
"There are many different communities of many different colors in Israel, and
it's important to show that to the world." Aynaw came to Israel with her family
when she was 12. Acclimating to Israel was difficult at first, Aynaw said, but
she picked up the language quickly with the help of a friend.
been working as a saleswoman at a clothing store since her army
During the competition, Aynaw cited the slain American civil
rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. as one of her heroes.
for justice and equality, and that's one of the reasons I'm here: I want to show
that my community has many beautiful qualities that aren't always represented in
the media," she said.