With a new(ish) baby, I find myself filling out a lot of forms listing name, address, family medical history - and of course, race. Oddly enough, I tend to stumble over this one. My family is a hodge-podge of immigrants from France, Scotland, Poland, Russia, even Palestine (not a political statement - they emigrated long before it was called Israel). They all ended up in Australia - does that make us Pacific Islanders? There is no box to tick marked 'semitic,' so I am left wondering:
What is a Jew? Are we a race or a religion? The Klan aside, I suspect that we are both. I'm not sure, though, that if there was a box for 'Jewish' that I'd want to tick it. Somehow, my nebulous race should be separate from my personal religious choices...and yes, you can infer from this that I have problems with racial profiling.
So bring on the forms and their pigeonholes. Watch as the mama enjoys the failure of standardized material to describe her. And see her smile gently as, when asked about race, she ticks 'other,' and then declines to elaborate.
Here's another perspective: jewschool.com and another, related opinion by DovBear