If you watched Season 8 of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, you know that Siggy Flicker didn’t have it easy during her second go at the hit reality show. The TV personality, 50 — who joined RHONJ for its seventh season in 2016 — unexpectedly found herself at the center of some major drama after a string of events that went from petty to painful.
As fans are well aware, Siggy — a proud Jew and the daughter of a Holocaust survivor — was deeply hurt after co-star Margaret Josephs compared her friend Kim DePaola to Adolf Hitler. The memory of Margaret’s seemingly tone-deaf comment still stings, but Siggy is turning her trauma into triumph. The relationship expert has recently joined forces with the World Jewish Congress as an ambassador for their #WeRemember campaign — which is aimed at combating anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and world hatred ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Saturday, Jan. 27.
In an exclusive interview with Life & Style, Siggy revealed why she decided to focus her efforts on raising awareness for the cause following her unfortunate experience on RHONJ’s latest installment. “We must never forget. And we must never make a joke out of it or bring it up in casual conversation. We must be sensitive,” the Write Your Own Fairytale author said. “Generations have been wiped out and we’ve got to keep it alive and keep the stories going because it can never happen again.”
Siggy — who was born in Israel and moved to the United States as a child — told Life & Style that she isn’t sure if viewers understood the gravity of her connection to World War II. Her dad, scholar and author Mordecai Paldiel, was just seven years old when he and his family fled Nazi-occupied Belgium for France, where they escaped the wrath of Hitler thanks to a Catholic priest.
“He’s got seven brothers and sisters and during World War II, they were running from village to village in France. They ended up in Evian, France, and when the Germans were invading Evian, France, my grandmother went to the priest and said, ‘Here’s my wedding ring. I’ve got children. Please, can we hide out in the convent?’ And he says, ‘I don’t want your wedding ring. Bring the children here,’” Siggy shared. “And he arranged for someone to help them over the border into Switzerland. And I don’t know if I would be alive today if that priest didn’t help my father and his family.”
Given Siggy’s proximity to the tragic genocide — in which roughly six million Jews lost their lives — it’s understandable that she would have an emotional reaction to Margaret’s casual mention of Hitler’s name. However, the self-proclaimed “Powerhouse in Pigtails,” along with the majority of the RHONJ cast, tried to brush off the comment as a harmless analogy.
“The Hitler comment just took me to another place. Nobody has walked in my shoes. Nobody has the right to tell me how to feel,” Siggy told Life & Style of her “very tough” season, adding that she is sorry for previously branding Margaret “anti-Semitic.” Still, she stands behind her opinion that the comparison was made in poor taste. “It was meant to hurt me,” she said. “And it did.”
Though Housewives creator Andy Cohen made an attempt to resolve Siggy and Margaret’s conflict at the RHONJ Season 8 reunion — which just wrapped on Wednesday, Jan. 24 — the women were still unable to make amends. In fact, revisiting their feud seemed to trigger Siggy’s decision to walk away from the long-running Bravo series. While she is “so grateful” for all the opportunities Housewives brought her, the brunette beauty couldn’t be more thrilled to start the next chapter of her career.
“At the end of the day, I wanted to take this negative experience and say, ‘God, why? What can I do with this to make it positive?’ Well, now I’m using this platform to educate people,” said Siggy. “I’ve never felt more fulfilled.”
For more information about the #WeRemember campaign, click here.