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Israel's Beauty Awes American Pageant Queens


JERUSALEM, Israel -- Jewish sages say that 10 measures of beauty were given to the world and Jerusalem took nine.

Recently, a little more beauty was added to the city when former American beauty contestants came for a visit.

Pageant winners usually take the spotlight. These beauty queens traveled to the place that's often at the center of the world stage.

The trip is intended to show the real face of Israel to celebrities with the hope that they'll spread the truth about the holy land.

"Through this experience visiting Israel, including this delegation, [they] understand what is the connection of the Jewish people to this land," said Ariel Bulshtein, with The Face of Israel, the group that organized the tour.

The trip to Jerusalem was a first visit for the group. For some it was a profoundly moving experience.

"Actually, right now I feel like I'm in a state of euphoria, like my hands feel tingly. I feel weightless still. I was just at the prayer wall and it was just really emotional," said Kristen Dalton, Miss USA 2009, from North Carolina.

"So far Jerusalem has been transforming, cleansing, by far the most beautiful experience in my whole life," said Alicia Blanco, Miss Arizona, USA 2009.

Bulshtein said the world values the opinions of people with titles.

"People who win those titles, Miss America or Miss United States, they are very important because they are media [in themselves]," Bulshtein told CBN News. "They have hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter, on Facebook. Their opinions really matter."

The beauty queens said the trip had changed their perspective of the country and now they're going back with a new message.

"Nobody really knows the truth and really what is over here," said Cassandra Kunze, Miss California, USA 2014. "So I'd like to be able to go back and talk about it, (to) say, 'No, you need to go and visit. You need to go see it. You shouldn't be so afraid.'"

"I grew up in Alabama where I never feared for my safety going to school every day, never even seen a bomb shelter. So being here was very eye-opening and I think now that all of us have experienced it, we understand that there's so much more going on in this country besides that," said Mallory Hagan, Miss America 2013.

The highlight of the trip was praying at the Western Wall for the first time.

"I'm a Christian so just like feeling the stones where Jesus has been and I just like felt His presence there so much, knowing that He's a miracle worker and our prayers are important to Him," Dalton told CBN News.

"So many tears -- I'm going to start crying now. It was the most beautiful experience in my whole life and I just wish more people could come here," Blanco said through her tears.

"You can see the number of prayers that are put in there. And then you look around the whole wall and you realize that actually the hopes and prayers of the whole world are here in this place," said Carrie Manthas, Miss Florida, USA 2003.

And what affected them most?

"Israel is a different world and it's taken me by surprise," said Cassidy Wolf, Miss Teen USA 2013. "And definitely something that's changed my life is getting to see all of this amazing stuff that you've always read about and heard about but now actually getting to see in person."

"It's really something I'll remember for the rest of my life," she told CBN News.

"Today's been the most life-changing experience that I've had," Hagan told CBN News. "Christianity is something that is very new to me in the last year or so, and so to be here [is] only furthering those beliefs to see the Bible come to life in front of your eyes. It's just something that you can't explain."

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