As a TV reality star and advocate, Siggy Flicker takes on anti-Semitism and Holocaust education.
Photos courtesy of Siggy Flicker
If you’re a fan of Real Housewives of New Jersey, you know exactly who Siggy Flicker is.
If you’ve never seen an episode in your life, you’ll want to get to know her. Because she’s much more than just Real Housewives of New Jersey (RHONJ).
You can get your chance on Wednesday, Oct. 16, when she will speak at Temple’s Israel’s Sisterhood Opening Program.
Known for her enormous heart, and possibly even bigger personality — which has no problem standing up to any troubles that come her way — Siggy first dazzled her way into the public eye as a relationship specialist and a matchmaker, with 20 years of experience, on her VH1 reality show Why Am I Still Single?
She’s guested on Good Morning, America, Dr. Phil and Wendy Williams and written columns for Marie Claire magazine and more. (Fun fact: Siggy’s divorce from first husband, Mark Flicker, was so civilized that he was best man at her wedding to her current husband, “lid-to-her-pot” Michael Campanella.)
After turns on Seasons 7 and 8 on RHONJ, she emerged from the franchise transformed — and dedicated to being a champion of Holocaust education and a voice against anti-Semitism.
Sigalit Paldiel never knew her maternal grandfather — he was killed in the Israeli War of Independence. Her Sephardic mother, Rachel, “broke her water in an Israeli bomb shelter,” Siggy says, “while my dad was fighting in the Six-Day War. His unit was responsible for liberation of the (Western) Wall in the Old City. And that’s how I was born.”
Siggy’s dad, Dr. Mordecai Paldiel, was born in Antwerp and escaped the Germans as a child in Evian, France, with his family. He grew up to be a Holocaust scholar and professor who ran the division of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem in Israel for more than 24 years.
“He was personally responsible for honoring 18,000 Righteous Gentiles — including the priest in Evian who helped his family over the border to Switzerland,” Siggy says. “I grew up knowing the meaning of history.”
Siggy’s father’s family was eventually reunited by way of Borough Park, Brooklyn, before he joined the Israel Defense Forces. There, he met her Israeli mom, who ultimately became a U.S. citizen and raised her own family in Cherry Hill, N.J., before they all returned to Israel again. But the independent Siggy decided to return to the U.S. on her own to attend Monmouth College in New Jersey.
Eventually landing on RHONJ, Siggy accused a fellow Housewife of anti-Semitism on Season 8 when she directed this whopper at Siggy during an argument at a fashion show:
“But, Siggy, Hitler would have not killed me. Does that make him a good person?”
“Something woke up inside of me and I decided, ‘This is it,’” Siggy says. “My kids and husband were never fans of me being on the show, and I felt like it was staged, and production was telling the girls to continue targeting me. I felt like I was being butchered 14 hours a day.
“And I wouldn’t keep quiet about it,” she adds. “I’m too authentic. I posted my resignation online, listing the reasons I was leaving. They asked me to take it down. I refused.
“From that, the lion inside me roared. It was a moment in my life that I had to choose a road — keep quiet or stand up. All those years when I was growing up, on Shabbat, my dad would tell stories. I would say, ‘Lamah, lamah? Why do we need to hear the same stories?’ He would say, ‘If we don’t tell stories from the past, we have no future.’
“Now, just two years after Housewives, anti-Semitism is on the rise. Now more than ever, it’s important to stand up.”
Referencing her 2015 book, Write Your Own Fairytale, and its message #KnowYourWorth, Siggy is now applying beyond the personal to the national: #KnowIsraelsWorth.
“Organizations are coming to me, saying, ‘We love you and your big mouth; we love that you speak up,’” Siggy says. “I don’t care about your political views. I want to educate.”
And though Siggy is loud and passionate, funny and animated, she is sharp — and knows her stuff. She can rattle off the history of Israel, dates, numbers, wars lost and won. And she can tell you what we need to do to counter the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, whose goal is to weaken Israel and is gaining the support of college students, professors and celebrities.
“I will crush those false narratives that they tell,” Siggy says. “I will give Israel the PR that it needs right now to match BDS. Americans don’t understand that this is not about land. This is about hatred. We’ve offered peace 52 times and we’ve been denied 52 times. This is not a Jewish problem; it’s a world problem.”
Siggy’s schedule is jam-packed with speaking engagements across the country, being honored in Israel, visiting Poland and Auschwitz. She has a children’s book, Be the Jewish Star You Are, hitting bookstores soon. In her efforts to reverse the common misconceptions about the Occupation and that Israel is an apartheid state, she is planning a series of missions to Israel, hoping they become mini-documentaries.
“I want to showcase how every religion started out in Israel. I want to show the Jewish things, but I want to show what living in Israel is really like. I want to show my beloved homeland as it is, with Jews, Arabs, Muslims and Christians living together, all desiring the same thing: peace.
“And,” she says, “to remember that we are survivors.”
Temple Israel’s Sisterhood Opening Program will feature special guest Siggy Flicker, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16. Complimentary for Sisterhood members; $60 for non-members. RSVP by Oct. 7 at temple-israel.org/sisterhood. Email Michelle Silber at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.