I’m so glad you asked! Most Yiddish dictionaries describe “shiksa” as simply “a non-Jewish woman.” Today, the word is often used to describe a non-Jewish woman who is in a relationship with a Jewish man. In other words, if you’re a non-Jewish girl, especially one who is married to a Jewish boy, you might be considered a shiksa. Historically, the word shiksa has been used in a derogatory way, meant to convey that the shiksa is somehow “less than” somebody born into Judaism. Some have even equated the word shiksa to a “vile abomination” or an “unclean thing.” Not so cute, right? When I first heard that, I took offense. I was born a shiksa, and I assure you I take showers regularly. Luckily, those definitions aren’t very popular anymore.
Nowadays the word shiksa is pretty much used with good humor—as I believe it should be! After all, there are many shiksas in the world; interfaith marriage is increasingly common. I feel it’s important to focus on the things that unite us, rather than the things that divide us. Fundamentally we are all the same. A good meal can bring warmth and joy to anybody, no matter who you are or what background you come from. Therefore, I’d like to officially liberate the word shiksa from its negative past.
As a convert to Judaism, I’m technically not a shiksa anymore. Even so, the nickname stuck, and I’ve embraced it fully. Rather than shy away from the word, I choose to let my background empower me. I have no shame that I was born a shiksa; I am exploring Judaism through the eyes of somebody newly reborn and thrilled to be part of the Tribe. I am happy that I was born a shiksa, because it made me who I am today. Judaism is now my spiritual path, but I will never forget where I came from.
If you’d like to learn more about my conversion, or why I use the word shiksa, please read my blog postings:
Through this website, I am hoping to keep the art of Jewish cuisine growing and thriving. I want to reach out to new generations and re-engage them in the art of preparing and savoring wonderful Jewish meals. I also hope to introduce people who don’t know much about Jewish cuisine to the exciting, unique flavors they’ve been missing. I encourage people from all faiths and backgrounds to join me on my journey into the heart of Jewish cuisine. Let’s all eat, drink, and embrace our inner shiksa!