Meet the women lighting the Independence Day torches: Holocaust survivor and actress Miriam Zohar

The faces behind the flames: Eighty-two-year-old Holocaust survivor and award-winning actress will light a torch at Israel's official Independence Day ceremony.

 Miriam Zohar (photo credit: Courtesy)
Miriam Zohar
(photo credit: Courtesy)
"If Hitler was alive I would say, 'you see? You wanted to kill me. But now I live in Israel'", says Holocaust survivor and award-winning actress Miriam Zohar, who is one of the 14 women selected to light torches at this year's official Independence Day ceremony. Zohar says that for her, participating in the ceremony marks a type of closure after everything she has been through. She received the phone call inviting her to to light a torch five minutes before she went on stage to act in A Medal for Harry and described the invitation as a great honor which moved her greatly. "It's a big thing for someone like me," she tells The Jerusalem Post.  
Each of the fourteen women represents a different profession and a different background. "I represent someone who passed through the [concentration] camps and lives freely in my own land," Zohar says. "And also the theater, which a very important thing for me."
Zohar says that although she wasn't in Auschwitz, she was in the work camps, where people died of hunger and she herself as a small girl almost died of typhoid. "I managed to get through this, and to reach my land and to reach independence, where I can live in freedom. I couldn't live anywhere else."
She notes, however, that along with the tremendous pride she feels for Israel, it pains her that there are people living in poverty in Israel, particularly other Holocaust survivors: "it hurts me that they don't have this last respect, they must not die of cold or hunger - they should at least live their last years well. It cuts me to pieces seeing a woman on TV saying she is hungry."
In a message to aspiring young actors, the 82-year-old Beit Lessin actress -- who was awarded the Israel Prize for stage arts -- emphasizes the importance of making time for family, in addition to working hard, as she did. "You can be more successful, less successful, you can also fail - but family is something that gives warmth - there is nothing like it."