The newly crowned Miss Israel, Yityish Aynaw, said on Wednesday that she
believed she had been invited to meet US President Barack Obama next week
because they were both the first people of African heritage to attain their
Asked by The Jerusalem Post why she thought she had
been invited to the state dinner being hosted by President Shimon Peres next
Thursday, Aynaw replied that she was “the first black Miss Israel to be chosen
and [Obama] is the first black American president.
Aynaw, 21, a former IDF officer, became the first
Ethiopian-born Israeli to win the pageant on February 27.
She said she
was “very excited” about the prospect of meeting a leader whose success she
cited as a “notable influence on her life.”
Obama “is someone who
accomplished things by dint of his hard work,” she said.
Aynaw told the
Post that she “didn’t believe that this was happening” when she received a
personal dinner invitation from “President Shimon Peres himself” on
Calling the opportunity to dine with the US and Israeli
presidents “wonderful,” Aynaw said that as a young immigrant, she “never thought
that such a thing could happen” to her.
During the Miss Israel
competition, Aynaw told the judges, “It’s important that a member of the
Ethiopian community win the competition for the first time. There are many
different communities of many different colors in Israel, and it’s important to
show that to the world.”
Both of Aynaw’s parents died in Ethiopia, and
she came to Israel 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. She studied at Kfar Hanoar Hadati (the “Religious Youth Village”) near Kfar Hassidim, southeast of Haifa.
Still not married,
Aynaw now lives in Netanya – where her grandmother also resides – and has been
working as a saleswoman at a clothing store since her discharge from the
During the competition, Aynaw cited the slain American civil rights
activist Martin Luther King Jr. as one of her heroes.
“He fought 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.
A feature-length interview with Aynaw will run in
next week’s Jerusalem Post Magazine. •