(JTA) — Siggy Flicker, a former Real Housewife of New Jersey, says she often finds herself apologizing when she hangs out with her friend Donald Trump, a fellow reality TV star turned Republican activist.
“We’ll talk about the country and how much we love the country,” Flicker told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency this week. “And I’m always expressing to him, ‘It’s just so upsetting to me, I’m so sorry, Mr. President, for the liberal American Jews.’”
Most of the time, she said, that thought gets shared in private conversations: Flicker, who now lives in Florida and is a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, said she’s dined with the former president and flown on his private plane. But this week, the sentiment exploded into public view after Trump shared a graphic that Flicker made for Rosh Hashanah on his social media platform.
“Just a quick reminder for liberal Jews who voted to destroy America & Israel because you believed false narratives!” said the graphic, which Trump posted on Sunday, near the end of the holiday. “Let’s hope you learned from your mistakes and make better choices moving forward! Happy New Year!”
The post immediately ignited criticism of Trump, who has accused left-leaning American Jews of “great disloyalty” in the past. A range of Jewish organizations condemned the post, which highlighted his record on Israel as president, and some called it “offensive” and “dangerous.”
Flicker, the Israeli-born daughter of Holocaust survivors, dismisses the concerns and says she was proud to see the former president share her work.
“Who cares if they found it offensive,” Flicker told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “The bottom line is Donald Trump is leading in the polls. Donald Trump is not an antisemite. Donald Trump is a lover of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. And at the end of the day, if the liberal Jews are gonna get triggered and they find it offensive, who cares?”
Trump’s post offered new prominence for the role that Flicker is playing in the effort to return him to the White House. With some of his past Jewish advisors, including his own daughter and son-in-law, seemingly keeping their distance from his campaign as he faces four separate indictments, Flicker has emerged as something of an unofficial Jewish ambassador for Trump — espousing views that are far outside the norm for American Jews.
On her Instagram account, she lambasts President Joe Biden, who received a large majority of Jewish votes; warns of the arrival of migrants, an issue with Jewish historical freight; and quotes Tucker Carlson, the former Fox News host who echoed the antisemitic “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory.
There was a time, not long ago, when Flicker said, “I don’t like negative,” and added that she wanted to “bring light” to the cutthroat world of reality TV. Born in Israel in 1967 — her full first name is Sigalit — Flicker is the daughter of Mordecai Paldiel, a Holocaust survivor who served as director of Yad Vashem’s Righteous Among the Nations department for more than 20 years. She has lived in the United States since childhood and, as an adult, crafted a career as a matchmaker and relationship coach.
She was the host of a dating show, “Why Am I Still Single?!” which ran on VH1 for one season starting in 2011. Beginning five years later, she appeared on two seasons of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.” Formerly a resident of Tenafly, a New Jersey suburb with a large Israeli population, Flicker now lives in Boca Raton, Florida full-time.
She has also written a book on dating and has co-hosted a podcast. Flicker’s second marriage, in 2012, made news because her first husband and the father of her two children served as best man.
It was around the time of her stint on “RHONJ,” starting in early 2016, as she tells it, that she first saw Trump’s appeal. (She was on the show for two seasons before quitting in a move that an anonymous source told Page Six was a response to antisemitic bullying.) She told JTA that she was a Democrat before then but saw Trump, a fellow reality TV star, as a fresh alternative.
“I said to myself, ‘Wow, finally a non-politician who’s a great businessman,” Flicker recalled. “I’m going to give him a try.’”
Seven years later, Flicker is a sworn Trump devotee. She said she and her husband have become personal friends with the former president in recent years, getting to know him through a mutual acquaintance, Alina Habba, who is one of Trump’s attorneys.
Since 2020, Flicker has been the spokeswoman for Jexit, an activist group formed in 2018 to persuade Jews to abandon their historical affinity with the Democratic Party — whose candidates regularly receive a solid majority of Jewish votes. She first got involved in Jexit after meeting its founder, Michelle Terris, and realizing that their sons were friends at Pennsylvania State University.
“She’s really a force and she is a true figurehead for our movement because she’s a legal immigrant,” Terris told JTA.
Jexit — which was loosely inspired by a similar group for Black Americans called Blexit, founded by the Black conservative activist Candace Owens — hosts prayer breakfasts, rallies and is planning an upcoming trip to Israel for a cohort of interfaith leaders. One of its goals is explicitly to promote “Judeo-Christian values,” a concept some critics say subsumes Jewish tradition within a promotion of Christian messages.
“Together we’re gonna make Judeo-Christian values great again,” Flicker said. “We’re not relying on the liberal Jews.”
Jexit’s programming director, Sofia Manolesco, told JTA that about 5,000 people are on Jexit’s mailing list. In a follow-up email, Terris said that after a “rough calculation,” their membership totals “50+ thousand.” The group has fewer than 10,000 Instagram followers; Flicker has more than 600,000.
The fact that Trump’s Rosh Hashanah post was written by a Jewish woman who works for a Jewish organization does not excuse it, said Halie Soifer, CEO of the Jewish Democratic Council of America.
“This is in his name, so it doesn’t matter who wrote it, this is attributed to him,” Soifer said. “It doesn’t matter that Jexit claims to be a Jewish organization.”
Soifer called the post’s claims “inherently antisemitic” and said, “A Jewish person can say offensive and even antisemitic things as well, if they so choose.”
In addition to her stances on Jews and Israel, Flicker holds a variety of conspiracy-driven views that have become increasingly commonplace on the far right. She told JTA that the 2020 election was stolen; that the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was primarily made up of “people dressed as Trump supporters” and was less severe than the destruction resulting from nationwide racial justice protests in 2020; and that Jews and Black people largely supported Trump ahead of the 2016 election until the “deep state” and “radical left” realized they “could not control him.” (She has previously said she was not in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021.) She also referred to Biden repeatedly as the “resident” — a term meant to imply that he is not a legitimate president.
Her organization also repeats falsehoods about the 2020 election. The Jexit website still includes a flier for a 2020 local “Stop the Steal” event in Miami, and Flicker said, “One hundred percent, Jexit believes the 2020 election was stolen.” She also texted JTA a meme that read, “January 6th will be remembered as the day the government set up a staged riot to cover up the fact they certified a fraudulent election.”
Flicker is confident Trump will win next year — “regardless of what the deep state and the radical left do,” she said. She only wishes that most American Jews could see the light.
“It’s the number-one question that I get: ‘How do you feel about your own people funding their own demise?’” she said. “And I’m like, ‘It’s heartbreaking to me.’ But you know what, at this point, you got to wake them up and tell the truth.”
A Jewish dad says he’s afraid to light a menorah this Hanukkah. So he’s asking non-Jews to display them in solidarity.
(JTA) — When Adam Kulbersh’s 6-year-old son Jack asked when they would be putting up their Hanukkah decorations this year, Kulbersh wasn’t sure if it was such a good idea.
With reports of antisemitism on the rise — exacerbated by the war between Israel and Hamas — Kulbersh, an actor and single father who lives in Los Angeles, said he was afraid to publicly identify his family as Jewish. In the past few months alone, multiple antisemitic incidents have rattled the L.A. Jewish community — including a home invasion in which locals believe the house was targeted because of the mezuzah signifying that Jews live there.
When Kulbersh relayed his concerns to his friend Jennifer Marshall, who is not Jewish, he recalled that her response was immediate: “She said, ‘We’re not Jewish, but we’ll put a menorah in our window for you as a show of solidarity, and in the hopes that it gives you whatever you might need in order to put one in yours,” Kulbersh told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The gesture moved Kulbersh — so much so that it inspired him to launch an online campaign he’s calling “Project Menorah,” which encourages non-Jews to display menorahs, or photographs of them, in their windows during Hanukkah and to share photographs online to show solidarity. The campaign began last week, ahead of the holiday, which begins Thursday night. It has quickly spread on social media, where people are tagging Project Menorah in pictures of their holiday displays featuring newly added menorahs.
“I think right now people want to help but they don’t know what to say,” Kulbersh said. “People are afraid of saying the wrong thing, being canceled, of not knowing what they should say or how to say it. But what this friend did, out of love, a simple gesture, meant so much to me.”
For Marshall, a longtime friend of Kulbersh who lives nearby, it was an easy decision.
“I was just sad that Jack and Adam couldn’t celebrate Hanukkah the way that they wanted to,” Marshall told JTA. “Part of me felt like there wasn’t really much I could do. And I thought, I’m going to get a menorah, and I’m going to put it in my window and I’m going to take a picture of it and I’m going to send it to Jack. It was actually very simple. I just wanted Jack to know — and Adam, but Jack, this young boy — that his celebration of Hanukkah was important.”
Marshall, who runs an advertising agency and has helped out Kulbersh with his son since Jack was young, said emulating the Jewish custom of placing menorahs in the window — in public view — was “the most natural thing to do to say ‘I stand with you.’”
She also views it as an important conversation starter.
“It’s an opportunity for the people who walk by my house or come to my house to have a conversation,” Marshall said. “I wanted it to be something private for Jack, and at the same time, I wanted it to be something public for every Jewish person.”
Kulbersh said the response to his campaign, including from rabbis, has been overwhelmingly positive. He’s seen posts from dozens of U.S. states — he said he stopped counting after 22 — as well as from Australia, Germany, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom. In one representative Facebook post, an orthodontist in Dallas shared the project and offered to buy menorahs for any of his non-Jewish friends who wanted to participate.
“We’re in a time of awful antisemitism, historic levels,” Kulbersh said. “I think the idea of inviting our non-Jewish allies to add their light to ours in a time of darkness has really moved people.”
Kulbersh’s campaign is the latest instance of non-Jews using Jewish symbols to express solidarity.
In a famous example from Billings, Montana, in 1993, thousands of people displayed menorahs in their windows after a brick was thrown through the bedroom window of a 5-year-old Jewish boy who had a menorah displayed. The episode inspired the award-winning documentary “Not In Our Town” along with campaigns preaching tolerance.
And just last month in Los Angeles, non-Jews offered to put mezuzahs up on their doorposts to show solidarity with their Jewish neighbors after the antisemitic break-in rattled the community.
Though Kulbersh’s campaign resembles the response in Montana, neither he nor Marshall had heard the story until he launched Project Menorah. Kulbersh said he chose the symbolism of the menorah because of Marshall’s reaction — had she offered to display a dreidel, he said, the campaign would have been centered around that instead.
“What I love about the story of Billings is it proves the point that in every era, the bigots find a reason to hate us,” he said. “And in every era, the Jewish people find the courage to stand up to it. And in every era, there are allies who find the compassion to stand with us.”
For some, the initiative is raising uncomfortable questions, including about whether relying on non-Jews to create real or perceived security is healthy for Jews, and whether it is appropriate to give non-Jews license to use Jewish symbols.
“I believe relying on camouflaging your Jewish identity and plausibly denying your Jewishness, or in this case having our non-Jewish neighbors light menorahs to help us do so, to survive, is spiritually damaging,” wrote one man in Austin, Texas, on Facebook after the Jewish communal organization there, Shalom Austin, promoted Project Menorah.
Kulbersh acknowledged that some view the use of Jewish religious symbols by non-Jews as problematic — or even cultural appropriation. He emphasized that Project Menorah is different.
“This is an act of solidarity in a time of historic antisemitic violence. We are not asking anyone to perform a religious ritual,” Kulbersh said. “We’re asking people to take an easily recognizable symbol of a Jewish holiday and put it in their window to show their friends and neighbors that they’re safe.”
Wil Gafney, a pastor, activist and professor at Brite Divinity School in Texas, told JTA she is worried about Christians using Jewish symbols without proper approval from Jews, a trend that has included Passover seders and the use of shofars in right-wing rallies.
“There is a swath of Christianity, primarily evangelical and sometimes fundamentalist, that appropriate Jewish holidays, rituals and ritual objects in a way that the majority of Jewish voices in the public and social media spaces I inhabit and the persons in my extended community and family find extraordinarily objectionable,” Gafney said in an email to JTA.
“My first thoughts about this project when I saw it on my social media was that this contradicts the message of Christians leaving Jewish things alone and may well embolden some who now feel they have license and permission to use Jewish ritual objects.”
Marshall said she doesn’t know if it should be considered appropriation but said she has not received any pushback for her menorah.
“If anybody knows me, they know that it would just come from a place of love,” she said. “It was a very simple gesture of love for Jack and the Jewish community.”
For Rabbi Emily Cohen, who leads the Reconstructionist West End Synagogue in New York City, the idea of non-Jews using a Jewish ritual object without a full understanding of it, or without a connection to a Jewish community, is troubling. She does, however, like the idea of non-Jews displaying photographs of menorahs.
“That’s something that makes it clear, I’m not actually lighting a menorah, but I am putting up this photo that shows that I care about the Jewish community and I don’t want them to feel alone at this season,” Cohen said.
Cohen added that to her, the best forms of solidarity are ones that are grounded in relationships, not just a simple social media post. In other words, she said, the best way for non-Jews to show they care about their Jewish friends and neighbors is to support them as they “do Jewish with other Jews,” Cohen said.
She cited the example of a group of Muslims who, after the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in 2018, gathered outside Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the prominent LGBTQ synagogue in New York.
“They were not going to the service, they were just standing outside to offer that solidarity and protection for their Jewish neighbors as they were going through this horrible moment after this attack,” Cohen recalled. “That’s the thing with solidarity: if you’re engaging in solidarity without actually engaging in relationship, that doesn’t feel as valid as if you’re engaging in relationship as part of your show of solidarity.”
Kulbersh said he welcomes the dialogue about whether non-Jews should display menorahs. “I love that about Judaism — we debate, we discuss,” he said.
But ultimately, Kulbersh added, he wasn’t looking to start a movement. In fact, he said his hope is that “there is no future for Project Menorah, because there will be no need for it again.”
‘We Are Tearing It Apart’: Half of Hamas Battalion Commanders Killed, Netanyahu Says
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday evening that Israel has successfully eliminated half of Hamas’ battalion commanders during the Israel-Hamas war.
The Palestinian terror group, which launched the current war in Hamas-ruled Gaza with its Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, is known to have 24 battalions.
“Hamas wanted to tear us apart; we are tearing it apart,” Netanyahu said.
The Israeli premier added that Gaza will “never again pose a threat to Israel.”
Netanyahu has refused to expand on Israel’s desired “day after” security situation in Gaza once the war ends, but he has maintained that Israel will need to maintain a robust security presence in the Palestinian enclave.
Gaza “must be demilitarized,” he said. “And the only force that can ensure this is the IDF [Israel Defense Forces]. No international force can be responsible for this … I’m not prepared to close my eyes and accept any other arrangement.”
Estimates put the number of Hamas terrorists killed during the war at between 2,000 and 5,000.
Israel has been engaged in some of the heaviest fighting of the war in recent days, as forces enter the Hamas strongholds of Khan Younis and Shujaiyeh in Gaza.
Arab media sources have reported that Israeli tanks are advancing on the city from both the north and the east.
Israeli intelligence sources believes that Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif may be hiding in southern Gaza.
The post ‘We Are Tearing It Apart’: Half of Hamas Battalion Commanders Killed, Netanyahu Says first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Susan Sarandon Dropped From Indie Film Consideration After Comments About Israel, Jews at ‘Free Palestine’ Rally
An indie film production company announced this week its decision to no longer work with American actress Susan Sarandon after she made inflammatory comments about Israel and Jews at a “Free Palestine” rally last month.
“As a company, PTO Films would like to make it clear that Susan Sarandon’s views do not reflect the opinions of our organization,” David Barroso, the co-founder of the indie film production company, told Page Six. “We were considering her for a short film, but due to her recent statements, we have decided to pursue other options.”
Barroso added that although PTO Films was pursuing the Oscar winner, 77, to play a part in their short film, there were never any formal “negotiations with her.” Another actress has not been cast yet to take on the role since the production has “fallen behind schedule,” he said.
Speaking at a pro-Palestinian rally in New York City last month, Sarandon accused Israel of war crimes and compared Hamas’ massacre of civilians in southern Israel on Oct. 7 to the difficulties Palestinians are facing in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
“So many people don’t understand the context in which this Oct. 7 assault happened,” said the Thelma & Louis star, trying to explain the Hamas massacre in which Palestinian terrorists murdered 1,200 people and kidnapped 240 others. “They don’t understand the history of what has been happening to the Palestinian people for 75 years … it’s time that Palestine be free.”
The actress also said, “There are a lot of people that are afraid, that are afraid of being Jewish at this time, and are getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Muslim in this country.” She apologized for her comments about Jews on Saturday but did not mention her remarks about Israel.
Sarandon was set to appear in PTO Films’ short movie Slipping Away as Dr. Sylvia Mansfield, according to Page Six, which reported that the film was mentioned over the weekend on the actress’ IMDB page in her “upcoming” projects list under “pre-production,” but has since been removed. The thriller is about a schizophrenic who “struggles with his own psychosis and his wife’s extramarital affair as the lines between his violent hallucinations and reality become increasingly blurred,” according to the film’s description on IMDB. Her role in the film was reported on in 2018.
This is the second hit to Sarandon’s career following her comments at the “Free Palestine” rally. She was also dropped as a client by United Talent Agency.
Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, Sarandon has shared a number of anti-Israel posts on social media. Even after the scandal following her comments at the rally in November, she has continued to criticize the Jewish state online. In one such message, shared on Tuesday on X/Twitter, she reposted a tweet that accused Israel of carrying out “a deliberate campaign of terror” in the Gaza Strip.