The Shmooze

Challah-Loving Inuit Throat Singer Preserves Tradition

By Michael Kaminer

  • Print
  • Share Share

You might want to skip this item if you’re tired of reading about challah-loving Inuit throat singers with Jewish/Filipino adoptive parents and an affinity for Hebrew and Tagalog.

If not, it’s kind of fascinating to read the UK Guardian profile of Nina Segalowitz, who grew up in a mixed Jewish-Catholic household in Montreal after getting forcibly separated from her birth parents, and became a renowned performer of the Inuit vocal art after rediscovering her heritage.

The story starts in Canada’s Northwest Territories, where Segalowitz was born. “I was taken away from a hospital. Because there was a government programme in the 1960s and 70s to put native babies up for adoption into non-native families so that they would be assimilated into Canadian society,” she told the Guardian. “My father had taken me to the hospital. They made him sign a few papers. My father thought he was signing hospital admission forms. The next day, he came to take me back, but I was gone. They told him that he had signed release papers and couldn’t get me back.”

Though Segalowitz loved growing up in Montreal, where she would pick up challah from a bakery in the Jewish Outremont neighborhood, she also felt “something missing”. After starting a search for her biological family, she began to learn throat singing, the traditional Inuit game “usually played by women” who “imitate sounds that you would hear in your environment in the North,” according to her singing partner, Taqralik Partridge.

Segalowitz finally met her biological father and siblings. She’s also become an ambassador of sorts for throat singing, which she and Partridge have performed all over the world. “One of the performances I can’t forget was in Lyon,” she said. “At least in Canada people have heard of Inuit people. In France, we were a totally different species… We were seen as old and ancient and belonging in a museum like the fossils there.”

Partridge, her singing partner, agreed. “We like to discuss stereotypes in our performances,” she told the Guardian. “For me, that’s the most important to address, that we Inuit are human beings like everyone else.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Nina Segalowitz, Jewish, Inuit, Hebrew, Guardian, Filipino, Catholic, Tagalog

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • The Cossacks were a feature in every European Jewish kid's worst nightmare. Tuvia Tenenbom went looking for the real-life variety in Ukraine — but you won't believe what he found. http://forward.com/articles/202181/my-hunt-for-the-cossacks-in-ukraine/?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.