Sun, Oct. 20

Nika Fleissig leaves legacy of resilience and style for all ages

Nika Fleissig

Nika Fleissig

My mother, Nika Fleissig, who passed away in January at the age of 98, was known in the Village of Oak Creek and in Sedona for her dramatic flair and outspoken opinions. 

She touched many people with her amazing story of resilience. 

Born in 1920 in Poland, she survived the Holocaust through knowledge of languages, intuition, and luck. 

The book, “From Miracle to Miracle: A Story of Survival,” written by me and edited by Village resident Anne Crosman, recounts dramatic episodes of how she escaped death and managed not only to survive but to come to the United States and begin a new life filled with loving family, art, and adventure. 

She spoke at book clubs and high schools locally and around the United States.

Her message to young people included: “Have confidence in yourself. Trust your instinct. Travel and learn languages and customs of other cultures. Have a personal style, and never ever leave the house looking bedraggled, because you never know whom you’ll meet. Find something beautiful and fun in the midst of ugliness, and don’t let yourself be brought down by negative influences.” 

Nika always dressed with vibrant colors, startling hats, patterned tights, and jaunty scarves, chokers, or handmade jewelry, even when only going to Clark’s Market, as the people who work there will attest.

She touched the hearts of many of the store owners in the area.

When she was younger she was very athletic.  In her nineties she began the blog “Life Begins at Ninety” in which she related her daily adventures.

In the morning she would walk to the right of her apartment in the Estados, and in the afternoon she would head to the left, often ending up at Cucina Rustica or J. Wine Bistro for a meal. 

On the way, she’d sit on a bench in the Collective, and if she saw someone interesting, she’d invite them home to see her paintings and enjoy coffee (with brandy), and cake (also with brandy).  

She gained friends everywhere she went. She could be intimidating to sensitive souls who might not care to hear her opinion …. but if you had a sense of humor, she was truly fascinating, with a mesmerizing force of personality. 

She rarely dwelt on the horrors she had endured but rather on the unbelievable opportunities that she found when she came to the United States on Valentine’s Day, 1946.

She married, started a family, and enthusiastically delved into art – painting, sculpture, ceramics, print making, knitting, crocheting… all at a high level of expertise.  She figured if other people could do it, so could she. If she could read, she could cook gourmet recipes.

The Village was brightened by her presence. For more information about her book or her art, please contact me, Rabbi Alicia Magal at

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