‘The Shiksa Incident’ Debate

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By Jordana Horn

Published May 19, 2010, issue of May 28, 2010.
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‘The Shiksa Incident” might bring to mind a potential title for an upcoming Judd Apatow flick, or a shorthand reference for a run-in with your parents about your dating situation last summer. But in 2009, it was the nickname of an event that served as the impetus behind a study that may lead to a new hate-crime law in Canada protecting, well, non-Jewish women.

According to Canada’s National Post, the Canadian Jewish Congress says that the Toronto Police Service is taking hate-crime legislation “to its most absurd level” by listing “non-Jewish Shiksa” as a victim category in its latest hate-crime study, to be released the week of May 17.

Three problems here. First, it’s hard to imagine a phrase more redundant than “non-Jewish Shiksa.” Second, why is “shiksa” capitalized? While it is, admittedly, an offensive slur for a non-Jewish woman, derived from a Hebrew root meaning “a detested thing,” it is not a proper noun. Last, while some nebbishy guy seeking to escape his Freudian mother issues may fetishize non-Jewish women, is legislation truly required in order to protect them? Is the “Save Our Shiksas” movement close behind?

The 2009 “Shiksa Incident,” occurred in an area of Toronto that includes some of the city’s Jewish neighborhoods. It was obliquely classified as “mischief,” and, sadly, no further details were given. It is unclear whether any charges were filed and, if so, if anyone was successfully prosecuted.

According to the National Post, a letter of complaint to the chairman of the Toronto Police Services Board says that CJC is “frankly mystified,” not just because “shiksa” is “sometimes used as a pejorative” and is therefore “inappropriate” for an official police category, but because hate-crime sentencing provisions were meant to reflect not just simple membership in a group, but also an “unchangeable” or “inescapable” aspect of the victim.

Meaning, perhaps, that the condition addressed is one that can be “escaped” — by taking a few dips in a mikveh? CJC was unavailable for comment.


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