Yityish Aynaw, an immigrant orphan from Ethiopia, who became the first black Miss Israel last month, has been invited to Thursday’s gala dinner with visiting President Barack Obama.
Yityish Aynaw arrived in Israel at 12. Her mother had just died, leaving her an orphan as her father had died years earlier.
Her mother’s parents, who were among thousands of Ethiopian Jews already living in Israel, arrived in Addis Ababa to fetch Yityish and her older brother.
In their new home, Yityish Aynaw and her brother had to learn Hebrew from scratch.
After school, like most other Israelis, she performed military service. She then stayed on in the army and was serving as an officer when she left, after three years, in September last year.
Before she was selected as Miss Israel on February 27, Yityish Aynaw was a manager in a shoe shop in Netanya.
During the competition she named the black American civil rights leader Martin Luther King as one of her heroes.
Yityish Aynaw says she hopes her victory will “achieve the acceptance of everyone in Israel”.
Ethiopians often complain about discrimination when it comes to jobs, education and housing. There were even allegations last year that some new Ethiopian immigrants have been given contraceptive injections against their will.