Just months after the revelations of the Holocaust’s devastation, Bess Myerson was crowned the first (and only) Jewish Miss America in September 1945.

Myerson refused to adopt a suggested less-ethnic pseudonym, and her victory was seen as a symbol of America’s rejection of the crimes and prejudices that ravaged Europe as well as a representation of the vitality of the American Jewish community.

Myerson’s win did not receive automatic acceptance. When an invitation to speak at a country club was revoked because of her Judaism, Myerson distanced herself from the pageant scene, and instead began lecturing about discrimination and the consequences of prejudice.

Source: Jewish Women’s Archive