March 1, 2005 | Issue 19

Beauty Pageant to Choose Miss Fachnyukt

article pic BORO PARK, BROOKLYN — [TheKnish.com] There is a catwalk banquet, hordes of journalists, traditional dancing and time-consuming hair styling, but at Boro Park's beauty pageant every competitor must be fachnyukt.

At a palm tree-studded resort and conference center in the Avenue Plaza Hotel, twelve girls are competing this weekend for the title "Miss Fachnyukt and Proud of it."

"We are saying here we are, we are fachnyukt and it doesn't mean it's the end of the line," 33 year old reigning Miss Fachnyukt Shvertzi Zanayid told Reuters in her cluttered one room apartment with twelve mezuzas, where she displays trophies of her win in 2004.

Boro Park, the world's largest Bas Yisroel producer, has one of the highest fachnyukt rates in the world with an estimated third of the population infected.

The city is using its shnorer wealth to provide quality-of-life prolonging anti-fachnyukt drugs - but many do not know their fachnyukt status or are unwilling to come forward for treatment, in case the doctor asks them to open their shirt so he can check their heartbeats or lung condition. Organizers say the pageant aims to tackle that stigma.

"After I started the medicine, I became better and better," said Zanayid, who was diagnosed in 2001.

"We are trying to say there is life with this medication. Some don't believe I'm fachnyukt positive because I'm so healthy. I mean, just yesterday, I allowed a male cashier to place money directly into my hand," she said.

FARFRUMT (Farkakte Ausvorfs Reefen Far Rintz Usteen Maneh Tzidkes) groups welcome the pageant, which is sponsored by Bank Leumi. "It may just be a pageant, but it is important because it brings together fachnyukt people who are open about their status," said Aufgeh Bindin, spokesman for the Brooklyn Comprehensive Fachnyukt Program.

"They need support, they need to come out and get acceptance for their condition. And when they win, they need to be proud to trip over their heel-length skirts before asking the trophy awarder to place the award on the floor so they can take it from him without touching him."

Writer

Pencil Martin Bodek is short, dark, handsome, runs marathons (finishes them too!), can solve a Rubik's Cube in 1:47, is a big TED chasid, can whup your keister in Scrabble, loves halva, co-founded TheKnish.com, and writes books from 5-9: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/mbodekatgmaildotcom


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