By Cindy Grosz
My father, Dr. Mordecai Paldiel is a Holocaust survivor, a renowned scholar, author, and leading expert on rescue during the Holocaust. He is the former director of Israel’s Holocaust authority – the Department of the Righteous at Yad Vashem, a position he held for 24 years. My father is a professor at Yeshiva College and Queens College in New York. He is as comfortable lecturing before world leaders at the United Nations as he is educating young children about the need to recognize the good in mankind.
My father lectures about the Righteous Among the Nations and the significance of documenting the rescue of Jews by non-Jews during the Holocaust. He also lectures on the importance of honoring these rescuers as role models for outstanding human behavior.
My father has written eleven books including “The Path of the Righteous: Gentile Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust,” “Whosoever Saves One Life: The Uniqueness of the Righteous Among the Nations,” “Sheltering the Jews: Stories of Holocaust Rescuers,” and “German Rescuers of Jews: Individuals versus the System.”
My father was born in Belgium. During the Holocaust, his family fled to France where they were rescued by a Catholic Priest who was able to smuggle the entire family into Switzerland on the heels of the German invasion.
My father has devoted his entire career to honoring those Righteous Gentiles (non-Jews) who risked their lives to save Jews during one of the most horrific times in history. To date, my father is responsible for honoring over 18,000 Righteous Gentiles from all over the world, including the Catholic Priest who saved my father and my family.
It was these historic events that were to shape my father’s future . . . and mine.
When I was asked to appear on The Real Housewives of New Jersey, I was thrilled to be the first Jewish member of the cast. I was committed to showcasing my family, my heritage and my religion. I was proud to introduce the audience to my parents and family. My favorite moments on the show were when parents had Kiddush on air and showed the importance of Jewish pride. I was proud that Bravo filmed my father explaining the Holocaust Park in Brooklyn to his grandchildren. That was a monumental experience for me.
My father taught me to treasure our traditions and pass them to our children and grandchildren. On Passover, we sit at the table and retell the story of when we were slaves in Egypt to honor Moses who told the children of Israel not to forget their liberation from slavery in Egypt. As we pass on the story of our liberation, we have an obligation to pass on the stories of the Holocaust.
My father taught me to stand up for what I believe – live your passion. So when Hitler was referenced on Real Housewives of New Jersey, I decided to take a stand, no matter the consequences. I made it clear that in today’s society, there is NO ROOM for trivializing evil. It’s not about reality television, it’s about REALITY! It is about basic human decency. There is nothing small or little about Nazi evil. It can NEVER be part of a casual conversation because there is nothing casual about it … .Hitler’s name should never be brought up in casual conversation. EVER! There is such a double standard in our society when it comes to racism vs. antisemitism. We are so cautious TODAY as we should be not to offend certain groups but mentioning Hitler in a casual conversation far removed from the Holocaust to the only Jewish girl is acceptable? NOT FOR ME!
It was at that moment that I knew I had to turn this negative into a positive and use this as a platform to educate and bring awareness on the subject. I am proud to say that I am doing just that.
I obviously get many of my bold traits from my father. Here is man who was able to find the good from one of the most horrific atrocities in the history of mankind. My father found healing by honoring non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jewish lives.
Dr. Mordecai Paldiel is my father. I am proud to be my father’s daughter.
Sigalit “Siggy” Flicker, 51, is a relationship specialist, matchmaker, television personality and author of “Write Your Own Fairy Tale: The New Rules for Dating, Relationships, and Finding Love On Your Terms.” She starred in the VH1 reality-television series Why Am I Still Single?! and was a cast member on the seventh and eighth seasons of Bravo’s reality-TV show The Real Housewives of New Jersey.