Karen E. H. Skinazi, PhD, is a cultural and literary critic who teaches at the University of Birmingham (UK). She has written for The Forward, Tablet, Lilith, and various academic journals, and she is currently working on a book about cultural representations of Orthodox Jewish women. A Torontonian through birth, New Yorker at heart, and Brummie by residence, Karen leads a vagabond life with her scientist-husband and three rowdy boys.
“They sent me baby formula,” my grandmother told me, “They sent it to me in the D.P. camp in Germany when your mother was born. We had nothing. I used to catch pigeons. We ate them. If I caught…a lot, I sold some, and we got bread, eggs. But otherwise it was pigeons.” “The formula? It smelled disgusting,” said the woman who ate pigeons. “I wasn’t feeding that to my baby. I threw it away.” It was a slightly different world that I was living in when I, like my grandmother, threw the… >> Read More
Halloween and Shabbat came hand-in-hand last year. Both are chock-a-block in rituals, and admittedly, these rituals seem antithetical to each other (dressing in costume vs. dressing nicely; going…door to door after sunset vs. lighting candles, praying, and eating communally after sunset; indulging in sugary treats that potentially have gelatin and other non-kosher ingredients, etc). But last year, when the two coincided, our family had every inclination to celebrate both. Like most kids, my boys organize their lives around rituals: the daily rituals… >> Read More
On Tuesday, when he started school, my oldest son was the only Jewish boy in his class of 30 kids. There are many schools in which that statistic would not be unexpected; an Orthodox Jewish day…school is not one of them. But that’s the way it goes here in Birmingham, UK--a place where, we learned upon moving here from the US, the Jewish population has been dwindling for years, but where the Jewish school continues as a thriving, competitive primary school, serving kosher lunch and celebrating Jewish holidays and Israel’s… >> Read More
“Last US Exit,” my husband, our driver, reads aloud. I reach for my iPhone to capture the image of our departure, but we whiz by too quickly. Too unceremoniously.
Can I really leave my…home, take my children out of their excellent school, say goodbye to an amazing job and kind friends and a beautiful neighborhood--again? We’re not American, though the country feels like home to us. Graduate school brought us to the US from Canada for a long stay that began in the 1990s, and we have since… >> Read More