What is a Shiksa?

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:

The Shiksa Is Jewish!

The Power of Words

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!

Comments (114)Post a Comment

  1. Hey… It’s very interesting that your cooking blog’ name is “Shisksa”. The meaning of “Shisksa” in Korean is a meal or having a meal!

    1. Came across your blog searching for a recipe using smoked paprika. Looks like a great blog! I’ll be exploring more recipes here. I’ve heard a few stories from a Columbian friend who married a Jewish guy (not religious himself, but the rest of the family are.) Almost every get-together with the in-laws sounded like an adventure. :)

      And yes. “Shiksa” does mean a meal in Korean. Exactly the way you’ve spelled it. I don’t know why Young Korean misspelled it twice…

  2. Thank you for this site, Tori — a cornucopia of culinary history, culture, and even comedy.

    The recipes and their stories are fantastic, but by sharing your own experiences in your decision to become a Jew-By-Choice, you give a forum to those in different places on their own journeys. I still get tears in my eyes when I recall the treatment of one of my friends by her husband’s family, who wouldn’t even allow her in the kitchen for fear of “something getting mixed up” — and she possesses more Yiddishkeit than the rest of them put together.

    As you are a culinary anthropologist, I am, by training, a linguist — and in that, I would like to thank you for rescuing the word “shiksa” from a meaning it was never intended to have. Words are at the mercy of the people who use them; if, as the Talmud says, “The righteous of all nations [ha-goyim] have a share in the World-To-Come,” then we are not in a position to use descriptors pejoratively! :-)

    1. Anita, thank you!! It makes my heart so happy to know that you and others understand why I have embraced the nickname “shiksa.” I can’t tell you how much your comment means to me, I really appreciate you taking the time to write.

  3. I’m very much the Shiksa in the kitchen at most of my hubby’s family events, in the positive sense luckily. I am of an interfaith marriage but we both decided that it was best that I did not convert to Judaism at the time of marriage, but we had a ceremony that embraced both of our backgrounds . Our time together, so far, has introduced me to the vast array of Jewish delicacies that are abound and I have become an avid ‘Jewish’ cook. I really respect the fact you have set up this website, it is very refreshing, positive, inclusive and inspirational.

    1. Sarah, so happy you’re enjoying the site! I’m very glad you’ve been embraced by your new family. Hope my recipes can provide you with further culinary inspiration. Hugs!

  4. Tori…love, love, love your blog! I am a mother of three, resident Shicksa and family cook for many family meals. Since I started a family and chose to stay home, the role has expanded to weekly all-family Shabbat dinners complete with my homemade Challah. I appreciate your story and am a lover of all things food. I embrace using the old traditions and ingredients to create delicious and healthy options for my family. Although, I recognize when some menus are just not the same unless they are fried, everyone has to make exceptions. I look forward to exploring your blog further and to watching new recipes and food ideas come to my in-box. Happy Cooking!

  5. Girl, you are too much! I just love your candor, your wit (convert in the kitchen?) and your delicious recipes (the photos are over the top). I married a nice Jewish boy, divorced him (still good friends) and have remained close to his grandmother, 92 years young and a total hoot. I’m thrilled to find your site to show her some fresh recipes that will remind her of her youth. I’ll have to see if there’s a newsletter I can sign up for. When you write that book, let’s talk. — Suzanna

    1. Thanks Suzanna! Very happy you’re here. You can sign up for my weekly newsletter at the top of the home page on the right hand side where it says “Subscribe.” :)

  6. Hello Tori,
    I just stumbled onto your blog looking for instructions on how to braid a challah, and I absolutely love it! The challahs, btw, are gorgeous. And I have just learnt a new name for myself! Turns out I am a shiksa as well (my husband is Jewish, but a very secular and non-practicing one, from France). I am an avid cook, and I cook French, American, and Russian food pretty well, and I am just starting to explore Jewish cooking. Your blog will definitely help. Thanks!

  7. Hi Tori,
    I am a retired, trained professional chef and I love your blog but what I love most of all is your enthusiasm and willingness to try different foods from different cultures. You do not have to be a trained chef to be a fabulous cook. I am from mixed family, my mother was the shiksa in our kitchen so I am delighted by you willingness to convert to Judaism and to try the varied cuisines in Judaism. I am so impressed with your blog and your teaching methods. I am delighted that you are a food anthropolgist. I would love to see some the titles of the books that you research. As a hobby I have been thinking about going back to school to learn the history of foods through the ages and would appreciate you any advice that you can give to me and all your fans. Thank you from one professional to another.

  8. Hi Tori,

    I am a G_d Fearer-New Testament description, one who loves and is in awe of the G_d of Avraham, Isaac, and Ya’acov. I desire to live Torah, so I am happy to find your blog.
    Shabbat shalom

    1. Thanks Jennifer! I made a conscious decision to embrace the nickname “shiksa” for several reasons, one of which is to help reverse some outdated negative stereotypes associated with the word. Happy you’re enjoying the blog! :)

  9. I am sure you know that Ruth, King David´s grandmother was a shisah too.
    And she was the best daughter in law in the History of Humanity.

    1. Indeed I do Jane! Ruth is an inspiration! In fact, I considered Ruth as a Hebrew name when I converted, but ended up choosing Adina. It just felt right, for some reason. :)

  10. Hi Tori
    I’m glad that you made a post on Norenee’s blog or I never would nave found you. I can’t wait to see what you have to offer with insights into Jewish (kosher) cooking. Welcome to the fold. You are a role model for those who have converted and what to learn more about Jewish cooking without being embarrassed to ask in-laws….there is so much beauty in cooking for the holidays and it nice to have someone who can but a different twist on recipes. Looking forward to new and interesting recipes from you as well as Norenee

    1. Thank you so much Natalie! Norene is an inspiration; I’m really enjoying being a part of her cooking group. Welcome to the blog! I’m thrilled you’re here.

  11. according to the jewish law – if you convert for a man (not on your own will) then, it is NOT considered a kosher conversion. =(

    1. Susy, I’m not sure if this is a general statement, or if you’re referring specifically to me. I did not convert “for a man”; I started my study of Judaism long before I met my Jewish husband, back when I was in college. That said, I would never judge another person’s religious conversion and its legitimacy, nor would I question their reason for converting. Conversion is a big step, particularly to Judaism– it is a very difficult process, and I don’t believe anybody embarks on that path without deep introspection. At any rate, this site is not about judging the spiritual choices of others, it is about enjoying food and food history.

      If you would like to read more about my own conversion, here is a link where I talk about it in greater depth:

      link to theshiksa.com

    2. Susy, as a Chasidic Jew, this is very insulting and actually against Torah to question why anyone wantst\ to convert to Judaism. Converts are typically more Yiddishkite than most Jews and you should never make a convert feel uncomfortable or question why they did so.
      I welcome you Adina Avey to the tribe!

  12. I saw you on WGN-TV in Chicago,and proceeded to hunt for your cookbook (which I didn’t find, and I thank Barnes & Noble for finding YOU for me!) My only connection to Judaism is the group of lovely ladies with whom I play Mah Jongg (I guess that doesn’t make me a shiksa). I thought I might find some good snacks & desserts to make when I host them!

  13. Hey!
    Interesting story behind the name of your blog. I regularly follow your blog. Its quiet interesting!
    You’ll be surprised to know that in Hindi (one of Indian language) SHIKSA means ‘education’. So in reference to your blog it means educating about food. Cool.Isnt it!

  14. so elated i came across your blog! i converted to judaism in 2005, met my husband on j.date in 2006 and here we are with two kids 5 years later. i really can’t wait to try some of your recipes. it’s hard to find jewish cooking that is healthy, so usually i reserve the frying and carbs for the holidays. truth be told, my mother in law is not a very good cook! :) and yes, i’m familiar with the ‘shiksa’ term. my husband’s family is reform now, but we go to conservative shul. however we do not keep kosher. our kids go to a jewish preschool which is kosher style (no meat) so i run out of ideas for protein. we try to keep it low carb regularly and organic/whole foods. so i will be a checking back regularly. nice blog! and mazel on joining the tribe! :)

  15. Hi Tori,

    I appreciate your blog very much, including your insights about being a recent convert to Judaism. I am Jewish but was not raised in the religion so much. I’ve spent much of my life studying my heritage. So, first of all, welcome, and thanks for the great recipes and especially the photos, which are extremely well done. I apologize that my post is somewhat long, but I wrote a lot to try to be as clear as I can about what some readers most likely feel but won’t say directly. I do so with the best of intentions, and with lots of respect for you and your blog fans.

    I wish to express my concern about your use of the word “shiksa.” You’re free to call yourself whatever you wish, but for those of us who grew up with even a smattering of Yiddish at home, it is a word that makes us cringe. And your employment of it, in my opinion, promotes several misunderstandings.

    For one thing, your comment “Today, the word is often used to describe a non-Jewish woman who is in a relationship with a Jewish man” is true as far as it goes, but there really is no difference in how one refers to a non-Jew who is dating a Jew, and what one calls any other non-Jew. As you can see from one of the previous comments, at least one person (and she is probably just a tiny representative of many) has construed your statement to mean that as a non-Jewish woman, she must not be a shiksa because she’s not dating a Jew. That is an erroneous assumption based on your statement.

    As a historian, I understand that language is fluid, and terms change in meaning over time, but such misinterpretations are a concern to those of us who grew up with Yiddish words and love the language. No one wants Yiddish to be set in stone. As a living language (we hope), it will naturally change. Nevertheless, at this point the dating status of a non-Jewish woman has absolutely nothing to do with the meaning of the word “shiksa” — although it may be trotted out by the relatives of a Jewish guy, which is unfortunate because, like it or not, “shiksa” carries an unpleasant connotation to native speakers.

    “Shiksa,” like several other words I choose not to use, is derogatory. I think those of your readers who didn’t grow up with Yiddish (Jewish and non-Jewish) should know this from the outset. You can say you’re “owning” the word, you can decide that you’re “redefining” it, but it makes many of us wince. Besides carrying a connotation of something unclean, it implies stupidity and loose morals. “Shiksa” is not a neutral term, and despite the sentiment expressed by the linguist who commented saying that you are “rescuing” it from “a meaning it was never intended to have” (not sure how she knows this, but assuming she’s correct), it *is*, like it or not, used as a slight by most Yiddish speakers.

    Words aren’t just sounds; they communicate kinesthetically (as a feeling) as well. A non-Jew is referred to respectfully as a non-Jew. Terms like “shiksa,” “goy,” and “shaygetz” do not communicate respect among native speakers, and are not names that non-Jews should want to be called, literal definitions notwithstanding. Again, as a historian, I’m speaking of how words get used, and those who really use the language still use terms like “shiksa” in a way that is, at the very least, disparaging. (Trust me, I’ve been in a number of situations in which someone will call him/herself a goy, and if there’s another Jew who knows any Yiddish in the room, I’ll check my reaction with that person. Inevitably — really — the other person will agree completely with my discomfort at this usage.)

    I want to be very clear that this is NOT how I or anyone I know thinks of non-Jews. This is why I refuse to use the words “shiksa,” “goy,” etc. I respect everyone, and this is the real Jewish teaching; so much so, that after one converts, Jews are not supposed to remind him/her of their conversion because once you’re adopted into the “family,” one is to make no distinction (although I totally understand the need to acknowledge and appreciate your heritage-of-origin, and I applaud that attitude — no one should have to disown his/her background).

    Anyone who refers to a convert in a disrespectful or derogatory way is breaking Jewish law. I know it goes on, and I deplore it. Fortunately, I think the old-fashioned cultural ways, born of centuries of being oppressed and needing to protect the cohesion of the group, are changing for the better. But in my opinion, it will take a long time (if ever) before words like “shiksa” are anything you’d want to use.

    I’m sure my post won’t change how you call yourself. (All other factors aside, “Shiksa in the Kitchen” is a catchy brand.) But those who read the blog, and especially those unfamiliar with Yiddish, should understand the connotation of the word so that they can make informed choices. Keep up the good work, and thanks for choosing a Jewish path. I, for one, am very grateful for what you bring to our people.

    1. Hi Historian 358– thank you for your kind words, and for your well thought out comment. I appreciate you taking the time to write and express your feelings. While I understand your concern, the word “shiksa” has been used in my family for years with nothing but the most positive, well humored intentions. In fact, before I converted, as I cooked Passover for close to 50 people each year, I was actually called “The Shiksa in the Kitchen” with a tone of respect– the fact that I had taken the time to learn and study the traditions and foods of the Jewish people, while not having been born into the religion, was a source of pride for my family (and believe it or not, a few of them are fluent in Yiddish!). I embraced the nickname for the blog, even knowing that I was about to convert to Judaism, with the full intention of turning what some might feel is a negative word into a positive one. For me, it is an acknowledgment of where I come from– my roots– and an invitation for others, whether or not they were born Jewish, to join me on my journey. That said, I understand where you are coming from, and I appreciate your feelings. I hope that you will continue to enjoy the blog, understanding that my intentions are nothing but positive.

    2. Have to agree with Historian356. I have been married for 33 years to a Jewish man – I am not Jewish. I remember the early days of my marriage, sitting at my mother-in-law’s kitchen table and being referred to as “the shiksa” – in front of anyone who happened to be there. It was tough for several years, so tough I refused to visit because it was very hurtful. My husband was in a terrible position, but finally put his foot down with his mom and sister and things were somewhat easier. I also fixed a problem she was having at a hospital and became the hero of the family. We became and remained extremely close until she passed. She spoke and taught Yiddish, BTW, and I use many Yiddish expressions.
      Shiksa is just not a nice term – even today, even though there are so many more inter-faith marriages. However, I think reclaiming the term and attempting to change the feeling of it is a wonderful thing for you, but as Historian356 said, it makes many Jews cringe – as it did my MIL later on. I cannot hear someone use it without remembering the terrible hurt that young woman I was, far away from her own family, felt.
      All of this is neither here nor there as this is your blog and you should do it your way, so I will simply enjoy browsing through the blog, just found it.

    3. Historian, you completely right! I’m Polish and for ages Poles and Jewish lived together “under the White Eagle”. In Polish a word “siksa” (pronunciation almost the same) means a young “lady” (still in high school rather) who is not very serious about herself, with bad behavior, without any manner and good upbringing. The word was taken from Yiddish and adopted into our “street” language and I’m not sure if still in use.
      Tori, no matter what is the real meaning; if you’re like it and feel good with, just keep use it!
      I was very curious who would call herself with such name and very positively surprised to find a young and intelligent young lady! I love your blog; I find here many recipes from my childhood in Poland!

    4. Tori,

      Firstly, your site is awesome! I don’t quite recall how I stumbled upon it but I’m glad I did.

      A quick side note: I don’t know that I’ll ever convert, but I’ve been interested in Judaism since I met my best friend, Rebecca, over a decade ago. I happen to be dating a Jewish man who says, in agreement with my best friend, that I’m “JBD,” meaning Jew by default. LOL!

      Lastly, I applaud you for attempting to re-appropriate the term “shiksa.” Language is ever-evolving. Obviously no one can argue the derivation of the word and its original meaning. However, one could argue that, GENERALLY SPEAKING, in North American Jewish culture, the term is often used satirically, and not necessarily (or at least not always) used pejoratively.

      As a woman who was at one time non-Jewish, you have every right to take back the term “shiksa.” The homosexual community took back the term “queer.” Feminists are taking back the term “bitch.” Maybe I’ll join in on the “Re-appropriate “Shiksa” bandwagon! After all, my boyfriend and his family have playfully called me that. Why not try and re-appropriate it?

      Cheers! (Or l’chaim!)

  16. Love your blog and love your recipes. I’m using your challah recipe for a meat meal and I’m using pareve ingredients. Thanks for becoming a Jew by choice! All the best in 2012!

  17. welcome to the tribe! What makes Jewish cooking so interesting it reflects the culture in which you were raised.
    My parents were from Austria and Germany. So the Jewish recipes that I was familiar with have an Eastern European flavor. Twenty years ago I met a gal who would became one of my best friends and who also is a great cook! Her hertiage is Greek . When we compared our ” Jewish ” recipes they were totally different! For instancees.. My charoset consisted of chopped apples, walnuts and wine.Hers is a paste of dried dates and honey! So we both expanded our repitoire of “Jewish ” cooking!

  18. Hi from a fellow shiksa – or former shiksa, I should say. I too love to cook – love your recipes! Thanks a million for sharing.

  19. found your site one day surfing and liked you on fb because your title made me laugh. And in this age of political correctness, that is so needed.

    I’ll be watching for side dishes for seder. I inherited my husband’s family meals about 10 years ago, which is fine. Just always looking for side dishes, espec to freeze ahead. Purim comes and I clear the freezer. Brisket is done & in. Next will be potato kugels. Next week soup & knaidelso.
    3 days before I will make gefilte fish (when the fridge is good & empty).

    So, any side dishes (other than tsimmes)?

  20. Well, you made me laugh out laud REALLY !!!!!! I love the way you have turn around the “shiksa” concept to make it fun and light!
    Now that I have read a bit about you , on with the food!!!! Because a well fed Jewish husband is a happy husband!!!:-)

  21. My sweetheart sent me this link today – so happy he did. You are lovely and your site is divine (I am also a ‘Shiksa’ I guess – just never knew it because I haven’t that much Yiddish yet – I will though)

    I will be a regular reader from here on!

    I think you have added something gentle and positive to the word btw…

    Congrats on your new spiritual path – may it bring you great joy!


  22. I love your blog and I love how you have embraced the Jewish culture. I am Jewish myself and have some more accurate insight regarding the word Shiksa. While I have read that the word had had a more derogatory definition back when Jews were isolated from the gentile community, and were often persecuted by them and driven out of their neighborhoods, the word’s meaning took on something different than what it has become since living in a country where there is more cultural diversity. Within that cultural diversity, also comes and intermingling that did not exist while living in other countries and Shiksa more often became synonymous with the “forbidden fruit”, something a nice Jewish boy should not have, even though everyone knows he wants it, and he wants it because he’s not supposed to have it. He’s supposed to marry a nice Jewish girl, who also is covetous of the gorgeous goyisha guy. I disagree with Historian356 unless you happen to still have one foot in the “old country”, most Jews today are quite secular and don’t cringe at the word shiksa. But to each their own experience. My experience is different as a Jew. With American culture constantly bombarding people with the idea of what is attractive, blonde and blue eyed celebrities, it also affected those in the Jewish culture of wanting the same type girl or guy, a shiksa or a shkutz (sp?). Yes Hollywood sometimes promotes darker beauties but let’s face it, this culture is obsessed with blondes. Also being a shiksa or a shkutz is not synonymous with being a gentile or non Jewish. It’s a “look” that is of northern European descent, like Irish and Swedish, etc. Ruth, from Naomi and Ruth in the bible, might not have been Jewish but she certainly was no shiksa :) not coming from the Middle East. One can not be a shiksa or a shkutz if they come from southern Europe or the Middle east regardless that they are not Jewish. There is a “look” and it is usually sharp features that defines someone as a shiksa. IOW Italians, Latins, Middle Eastern and even Asians cannot be shiksas. It’s a northern Christian thing or people from a northern European demographic. It also applies to the word “goy”, You wouldn’t refer to a ethnic group in which they could also easily be mistaken for looking Jewish as a goy or a shiksa, as in Spain, Italy, Greece or any of the Arabic countries and definitely not Persian extraction either as there are many Persian Jews. Thought that might help.

    1. This is in response to Kazy- So many of us Jews have small, well-formed noses, light, soft and straight hair, green or blue eyes and are to be found in abundance in Israel (along with a rich variety of physical types as we represent an “in-gathering of the exiles”…from the four corners of the Earth!)! Having been born and raised in America and despite my own family’s not falling into the stereotypical images for Jews, I fell into the trap of thinking I could physically identify a Jew. The fact that I was a victim of indoctrination/”racial” prejudice did not come home to me until I was brought to the Holy Land as a ten year old! I discovered so many “types” here, tall, short, fair, dark, long-legged, small of stature- and they were all Jewish! Even more so, when I spent time on a kibbutz, and I was considered one of the darker members of my class!!! I have long since let go of the swarthy, beak-nosed images that characterized us and resent it when even well-intended people perpetuate it! Truth is, our “hostess” could easily be a born Jew if judged simply by her lovely appearance.

      Welcome to the family, Tori and congrats on a no less welcoming blog! BTW, I, too concoct recipes often based on the heritage passed on by my adorable and amazing mother. Maybe you’ll inspire me to finally finish my own cookbook!

  23. I love Marley, wonderful breed

    Re Cookies. In Australia we don’t have cookies traditionally, although you can buy them. We have biscuits generally speaking

    Is this the recipe you used?

    Anzac biscuit recipe
    he popular Anzac biscuit is a traditional, eggless sweet biscuit.

    The following is an original recipe provided by Bob Lawson, an Anzac present at the Gallipoli landing.

    1 cup each of plain flour, sugar, rolled oats, and coconut
    4 oz (125g) butter
    1 tbls treacle (golden syrup)
    2 tbls boiling water
    1 tsp bicarbonate soda (add a little more water if mixture is too dry)

    1. Grease biscuit tray and pre-heat oven to 180°C.
    2. Combine dry ingredients.
    3. Melt together butter and golden syrup. Combine water and bicarbonate soda, and add to butter mixture.
    4. Mix butter mixture and dry ingredients.
    5. Drop teaspoons of mixture onto tray, allowing room for spreading.
    6. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on tray for a few minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

    From Robin McLachlan, Anthea Bundock & Marie Wood, Discovering Gallipoli: research guide (Bathurst, NSW: Times Past Productions for the Australian War Memorial, 1990)

  24. Hey,
    i got to your blog thru punchfork. Hmmm lovely blog.
    in india ‘shiksa’/Siksha means training .

    nice collection of recipes. i’m going to be regular on your blog.

  25. Hi Tori,
    Interesting comments on here with regards to the use of the word shiksa. I am an Irish catholic living in London and have been with a New York Hasidic Jewish man for the past 4 years.He is 17 years younger than me so I guess you could say we are quite a controversial couple! I never knew much about yiddish language, Jewish tradition or the word shiksa before I met him but I have learned a LOT in the past 4 years. We are not married but do intend to get married in a year. I don’t feel the need to convert. His family will never accept me as a non-jew (his mother told me so) and that’s ok because I am a strong woman with a fantastic family who support me in everything I do – they also love my partner because I love him. I understand that the word shiksa has negative connotations and I agree with the ‘concept’ that a woman who may affect the jewish’ness’ of the family lineage would be seen as unsuitable at the very least and unscrupulous at the very worst. I also agree with the idea that this is a rather outdated way of thinking that one should be free to choose ones partner in love and life based on compatibility.I have never put so much thought and effort into a relationship as I have with my partner learning all about his background his culture religion and food. I do this because I want him to be happy and feel like he has a sense of ‘home’ when with me. He certainly loves my cooking and often jokingly says he is only with me because I cook very well. I understand his need to be understood and I understand that how we grow up has a huge influence on who we are as adults. He too takes the time to get to know my family and background but I did not grow up in such a restrictive and rigid community as he did so it is probably easier for me to be flexible than it is for him. Coming from a strict hasidic background it is important for him to adhere to some of the rituals he is accustomed to so therefore it is important for me to create an atmosphere where these rituals can be observed and enjoyed. I look forward to Friday evenings every week and cooking special meals for the holidays where my whole family can enjoy the tastes of his culture-stuffed cabbage leaf is a particular favourite. I have muslims in my close family also so can you imagine christmas at mine christians jews and muslims all breaking bread together and not a religious argument in sight..the only fight is over who is going to finish the non-dairy cheesecake!! Carry on making your amazing food Tori it’s a pleasure to read your blogs and recipes. I look forward to Sunday evening every week when your email newsletter arrives…Hugs Michelle H xx

  26. I was wondering what that meant… Thanks for sharing! I am a Gentile woman as well, with the heart of Ruth. I’m so thankful the LORD has called me to be such a woman, I’ve been blessed beyond measure as I’ve followed the calling. I’m not married to a Jewish man, not a Jewish convert, but I am beginning to understand the full measure of G-d’s love for us through Torah. Combine that with my life with Yeshua (Jesus) and my journey has been a beautiful one! The only thing I think my in-laws call me is “crazy”. haha! Shalom! ~L

  27. Hi!
    Just found your blog. Glad you chose to join the tribe! Welcome (though it has been a few years.) Our food sensibilities are similar, so I look forward to following what you are doing.

  28. Am another shiksa… but my husband could care less about his background. I’m excited to try your chicken shawarma and tahini sauce. Thank you! Linda

  29. I have Norene Gilletz’s Food Processor Bible. My mother bought it for me in the 1980s. She had a food processor before I ever had one for my kitchen! I had just moved to London, England and things were a year or so behind than Canada. Norene’s carrot and sweet potate soup looks amazing on your website. I am going to try that this week. I love the look of your website and writings. It sparkles out of the pages. And you look stunning among the Jewish girls out there.

  30. I just discovered your blog, when I decided to learn what the word Shiksa meant. I was enlightened. However I saw the picture of Marble pound cake,. plus some others But I could not find the recipe anywhere. It looks wonderful..Please be so kind as to post the link..Would love to try this weekend..
    Thank you

  31. I arrived at this website in a very round about way.I love Shiskas that much that I married one.Just as good looking and talented.

  32. Thank you for your wonderful explanation of your use of shiksa! And the picture of wonderbread and challah had me laughing a long time. I have to confess I was a bit taken aback, as a 60 year old jewish woman, i reacted like you had said “shvartza” which literally means black, but was used as a perjorative like shiksa when i was growing up.

    I found your website through a friend’s posting on FB and was delighted to see your recipes. Have you ever found the cookbook “Love and Knishes” I am sure you would love it!

    In any event, thanks for sharing the joys of cooking Jewish, ze gazundt!


  33. Hi, Tori.

    I am another “shiksa in the kitchen” and just discovered your blog while searching for a recipe for chopped liver. My husband’s family is basically non-observant, except for food, and then not even kosher. But certain foods are just really important as the various holidays come up, or just long-remembered comfort food. It’s not hard to find recipes, but I love your blog for the love it reflects, which is the driving principle behind my own cooking and especially in searching out recipes that speak to my husband’s family of home and comfort.

  34. Hi–I just stumbled across your charming blog, thank you. I am a Jewish woman who had the great fortune to marry a lovely Lutheran man, who asked me quite earnestly on our wedding day if our union meant he was now a “shiksa”. I told him I certainly hoped not! Fifteen years later, he still won’t touch gefilte fish…otherwise, it’s been perfect.

  35. I’m a shiksa from New York City (raised Catholic); My Irish mom often brought lox, bagels, whitefish, pickled herring and chopped liver home for us to enjoy. My ex-husband is Jewish (Reform) and, although I don’t miss him, I do miss the holidays, traditions and food of my in-laws, especially around Passover (my in-laws would kid around and refer to me as a “shiksa” but always lovingly and with good humor – I never minded a bit). I’m now married to a wonderful Lutheran man from Minnesota who wouldn’t know Gefilte Fish from Kasha Varnishkas. However, I’m slowly introducing him to Jewish cuisine (which, in my mind, is also traditional New York City cuisine!) and happened upon your lovely site while searching for recipes. Thank you and keep on cookin’! :)

  36. Wonderful site- also enjoying the thoughtful comments.

    As a descendant of Spaniards- I could never think of myself as a “goy” or anything close. I speak Spanish and French, and understand Judeo-Spanish. I’m told my accent in Hebrew is close to native, I have a good working knowledge of Persian and Turkish– and I can improvise in the Ahava Rabbah mode. Oh – I forgot- I am also studying Mussar and Kabbalah. And I can make a mean Fesenjan (Persian shredded chicken dish with walnuts and pomegranate) – haha!

    Mazal Tov/Buena Suerte!


  37. Hi Tori

    I found your site looking for a challah recipe and I’m going to give yours a go tonight but I have to tell you something (before I start working out what the ingredients should be for just one loaf – v slight criticism!).

    There is something so heart-warming and endearing about this blog/site that it had me reading it with a lump in my throat and I’m not normally a big softie like that. I think it’s the goodwill, the joy, the candour and all the positivity that makes your readers warm your theme and, of course, to you personally.

    Having said all of that, if this bread recipe is no good, I’ll take it all back – I’m fickle like that!

    All the best

    Manchester UK
    (Jewish Atheist)

  38. Well, I thought that you were a very very cute shiksa and I was totally ok with that.
    Then as I read on, I realized that you are a convert and are now a very very cute Jewess. Welcome to our faith.
    The more you delve into it the more you will realize just how deep and fascinating it really is. Good luck on your website..it is super and I already put your kitchen on my site and will get some of my people to check your cooking out.
    Alfred Marton

  39. Hello Tori –
    Found your site (“What the Ancient Israelites Ate – Ful Mudammas”) while looking for a recipe to prepare a shared dish dinner to greet our new rabbi’s.
    Will try out your version this weekend – thanks for posting a fascinating website!

  40. Love your pic with the wonder bread!
    Will come here once in a while, when trying to recreate stuff I used to eat in my childhood.
    Your replies now are tagged Tory Avey. They were, IMO, fancier when they were “The Shiksa says”. Fix that!

    It is a real boon to have blogs such as this on the net. Thank you!

  41. Dear Tori, I am a shiksa doing pretty much same path as you, I really like your web site, I love food and cooking so I´m glad to find in this area a new challenge (jewish recipes).

  42. What a great site. We’re just beginning to explore and enjoy.
    I’m married to a ‘ Shiksa ‘, the love of my life. So happy she has never turned into a ‘ J A P ‘ (nothing to do with Japan).
    She has over the years learned to cook the most impt. ‘ Jewish ‘ meals. Matzoh ball soup, blintzes, chopped liver, brisket, etc.
    She has kept me and the family happy for years.
    Thanks for all your work and recipes.
    Sei Gesund
    L’Shana Tova to all

    1. I do see how this blog might make good reading for those in an interfaith marriage, but it feels weird to read how others have no issue with throwing away the opportunity to continue the Jewish chain which has somehow survived for 5,000 years. As a Brit I have realised that Judaism in the States is very different. We only really have Orthodox/Orthodox ‘affiliated’ (me) and Reform, whereas there are so many more variations in the States. I never intended to fall in love with a non-Jewish girl but this happened when I worked in France two years ago. I have only just broken off the relationship and feel wrecked so it is weird to read about other people’s experiences here and how for them being Jewish is little more than challah, chopped liver and the odd ‘Mazal Tov!’ and ‘Shana Tova!’ But then I realise that upbringing is the key. I was lucky to receive a Jewish education, to be taken to shul early on and so felt a connection to the religion very quickly. It is just a shame that others have not had the same opportunity and therefore think nothing of marrying out. You can’t blame them if their parents haven’t instilled within them any sense of an enduring connection to Judaism and to geneations of past Jews. But I hope to eventually move on from this painful experience with a non-Jewish girl that I love and marry a nice Jewish girl. I want to see my children Bar and Bat Mitzvah’d and know that I would feel uncomfortable in the long run with a partner who does not feel the same core need to keep the tribe going.
      Take care,


    2. Mark, personally I believe that continuing the “Jewish chain,” as you call it, has less to do with being genetically born a Jew and more to do with embracing Judaism as a religion, a faith, a tradition and a way of life. Many of the people who read this blog were not born Jewish, and yet they are more invested in keeping Jewish traditions alive than some who were born into it. As a convert, I know far more about Judaism than many Jews by birth. If Judaism is important to you, find a partner who lives the faith and wants to continue the tradition. However, I don’t believe anybody should be judged for marrying outside the religion. Everybody has their own spiritual path. Live and let live.

  43. Hey Tori,

    Wow, didn’t expect such a speedy response! In a way you are right, and over the past few months I’ve had to think about whether some of my opinions are a bit on the ultra conservative/intolerant side. It isn’t right to judge others who have married out, you’re right. I’m sure they are wonderful human beings, and I sometimes wonder as to whether that fact, and not their religion, is the most important thing. I just worried about bringing up my kids in a Jewish household (my girlfriend was amazing, she read tons about Judaism and would have made such an effort) only for them to be told that they are not Halachikally Jewish. It sounds stupid to be ruled by such a technicality, but, at least in England where we don’t have large Conservative congregations, for example, that’s the way it is. We even considered conversion but I couldn’t bear putting her through potentially 5+ years of extremely hard work with no guarantee that she would ever feel truly comfortable as an Orthodox Jewish woman. And over here a Reform conversion isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. We could have moved to the States (work etc permitting) and she could have converted into the Conservative system, but then we would never be able to leave that system because the conversion would not be recognised by Orthodox authorities elsewhere. But I don’t know your personal situation and to be honest it’s none of my business, and you are right that many converts often know a hell of a lot more than their fellow Jews! It seems odd to my Christian friends, for example, that Judaism makes such an effort to turn people away instead of trying to increase numbers. But the stats speak for themselves, that the children of intermarriage couples feel less of a connection to the religion or, even worse, feel confused as to their idendity. I considered avoiding this problem by giving up my Judaism altogether (I didn’t feel comfortable with my non-Jewish wife saying the Hebrew prayers over Shabbes candles for some reason) but had to accept that as an old man in 60 years time I would probably regret seeing my grandchildren celebrating Xmas. All of this has no bearing of course on the respect they are due as human beings, I’m just trying, and failing somewhat, to describe my quandry. Thanks for your reponse though 😉
    All the best,


    1. These are all important questions. One thing I’ve learned is not to worry about what others think or how others perceive me, or my family. I am Jewish, a proud member of the Tribe. I converted Reform; if that’s a problem for some people, it is their own problem, not mine. I’ve found peace in my heart, in my family, and in my spiritual relationship with God. I hope you can find a similar peace, and a relationship that brings you happiness on every level. :)

    2. Dear Mark,
      I will apologize now for a long post, and also say Thank You for having the patience to read it.

      As a woman in a former culturally “mixed” marriage (both American; I am white, but ex-hubs is Hispanic and lived most of his school years with grandparents in Central America), I understand completely the feelings you are trying to articulate. I realize your experience is about religion and mine is about culture, but that’s OK because the emotion invoked is ultimately the same. While you may have dearly loved your French spouse, Judaism was something the two of you did NOT have in common and, in reading your post, it appears clear (to me, anyway) that you discovered during the relationship that your Judaism is actually quite important to you. In my own experience, I learned that the lack of a common belief system or common childhood upbringing *can* leave very large hole in a relationship, despite your mutual love & respect for each other, and regardless of the value you place on the diversity you share.

      When you and your spouse have very different backgrounds, the need to constantly explain yourselves to each other (due to lack of reference points) has the potential to make a relationship feel an awful lot like work, because those “reference points” are not inherent in the other person. Holidays and traditions can feel artificial and stilted, never quite right, like it’s trying to be forced. Some folks can climb that mountain together and get to the top without a problem, but many cannot. And that’s OK–it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with either one of you if you can’t, but it probably does mean that a marriage was not meant to be.

      You noted your spouse likely would not be able to cope with a full orthodox conversion, and that even if she were to get through perhaps a Reform conversion, your concern is the Orthodox community would likely still see this as ‘Jewish Light’ (so sorry, can’t think of a more sensitive way to phrase it just now), and not necessarily accept her or your marriage, therefore putting your future childrens’ true Jewish lineage and heritage in question (assuming you’re referring to understanding that if one’s mother is Jew, then so is the child, correct?).

      If you’ve discovered that your Judaism is as equally important to you as, say, your identity as a British citizen (I think most folks in the world feel an equal allegiance to both their country and their faith), then embrace that and pursue your life accordingly to that roadmap. Jump straight into the middle of your Jewish community there, and you’ll likely find the wife you’re looking for.

      But I think equally that if your French spouse wanted to make a life with you, had examined her heart truthfully and was ready to convert to Judaism, not out of love for you but for love of God (my understanding of how it’s supposed to be), then I think you both would be doing worlds towards keeping your Jewish heritage alive and passing the lineage on to your children. You will have gained everything.

      Even though I was brought up in, and still practice, Catholicism, ever since childhood I have always believed that letting our Jewish roots slip away in those first hundred years or more following Jesus was a tragic loss. Abraham is our first Father too, and I strongly believe that Judaism is to be respected, kept, and passed on as the magnificent faith it is.

      This reply was meant to convey empathy and understanding for what I believe your feelings to be, based on my own previous experience. And also, to show respect for Judaism. I hope it was helpful in every way, but also hope it was not hurtful in anyway.

      Most Sincerely, Carolyn

    3. Mark
      I totally understand how you feel, I was dating a non-Jewish guy for quite some time, but he never truly got it and would never have allowed me to bring up the Jewish children I desperately want to bring into this world and instill with a love of their history and ‘yiddishkeit’ and as DaisyDoll put it the need to constantly explain yourselves to each other (due to lack of reference points) was probably one of the main reasons for the breakdown of our relationship. As a primary school teacher I also see everyday these children you talked about, who have no idea who they are, would rather celebrate xmas than 8 days of Chanukah (surely the better deal!). As a child brought up in an orthodox family, I too was taken to Shul from an early age and immersed in the songs, prayers and community that I couldn’t imagine not being a part of. I would never have thought of going out on a Friday night, eating non-kosher meat and certainly never crossed my mind to celebrate xmas over Chanukah!

      Being Jewish is very important to me and I am very involved in my community, however the only problem with being in my community up here in Liverpool is that the community is so small that finding somebody with those same ideals is a very narrow window that I have yet to open!

      As I mentioned I am a teacher and I thank you greatly for your site as it frequently provides me with some excellent resources and crafts to entertain the children with.

      I just wanted to clarify something from an earlier post of three! Goy is not Yiddish, Goy is Hebrew and means ‘nation’. It was used by G-d when he told Abraham that he would become a great nation a ‘goy gadol’. The term goy (when used correctly!) simply means the nations that are not us, it can equally be used to describe the Jewish nation.

      Shiksa on the other hand is something different, I realize in North America the term may well be taken satirically however in and across Europe where Yiddish originates, antisemitism was and still is rife and the Holocaust is still an open wound the term is certainly not taken in that way. It is used only in derogatory ways, therefore in the same way the ‘n’ word is not acceptably used, amongst the Jewish community the same goes for this word. I’m not sure where Kazy means when she talks about the ‘old country’ but trust me when I say the community across North America is not the same in any way as the communities elsewhere in the world.

      I mean no disrespect, I just wanted to explain both the true meaning of the word goy and the reasons for the feelings of those people not from your community.

      Good luck with everything
      Shabbat Shalom

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