What does it mean to be, like, Jewish? On the one hand, it seems straightforward enough - matrilineal descent and all that. On the other, it does seem at times a rather complicated matter. Certainly, I for one would struggle to find anything in common between the nice young men (only men, mind - women stay at home and do the dishes) who've been chucking stones at the Intel Building over the last couple of weekends, and the very nice young women (there are men too, but they don't immediately concern me) who spend the Sabbath soaking up the sun on Tel Aviv's beaches.
More seriously though, it is obvious a vexatious issue, as the Jewish brethren in England have found out recently, prompted by - of all things - school admission policies.
Perhaps one way around it is by creating a sub-group - people whom identify as Jew-ish, rather than Jewish, as the journalist Jonathan Margolis expounds on at length in today's Guardian.
Margolis is, in some ways, whom I'd like to be when I finally get round to growing up - an engaging and perceptive writer with the capacity to soften provocative opinion with wry humour. He starts off light, with a bit of self-deprecating stuff:
"For us, the cool thing about being born a Jew is you can do it as much or as little, as well or as badly, as you like. You can be professional, amateur or pro-am. This understandably pissed off the pros, who marry a fellow full-timer, know all the stuff in the manual and keep up with the latest fads."
...before dipping into deeper territory.
"I don't pretend any of what I've experiences is more than an inconvenience, an irritant in the scheme of racist things, but at school in the 60s and 70s I was still physically beaten and tormented by larger boys...the reason for the violence was, apparently, that we Jews were at the same time unacceptably rich and flashy and unacceptably poor and miserly. It was, I see now, a writ-small version of the confused Nazi paradigm of the Jew as both arch-capitalist and arch-communist."
There's a link to the full article here.