Gregg Nunney: We’re richer because of our heritage

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Have you ever seen the TV show Who Do You Think You Are?

If you’re not familiar let me tell you how it works.

A celebrity gets chosen and they investigate their family tree.

I’m presuming any celebs with nothing of any note in their closet get tossed to the side as it’s only ever the interesting stories that make it on to the telly.

Some of the most gripping episodes have included Stephen Fry returning to Auschwitz, a destination where a large piece his heritage comes from, and Matthew Pinsent discovering he is a descendent of William the Conqueror.

Truly magnificent viewing.

Researching my own family tree is something I have thought about doing for ages.

On both sides of the family my knowledge only really goes back as far as my parents, but I know there is a wealth of knowledge to be discovered there.

I’m aware that, on one side, my great-grandparents come from locations as varied as Poland, Palestine, Russia and the United States while, on the other side, I am as Anglo-Saxon as I could possibly be.

I’ve always been grateful that my family tree is so varied and the few occasions I get to explore it further are guaranteed to be interesting.

Last weekend I went to Essex for a ‘baby blessing’ on the Jewish side of the family and, for the first time in my life, sat through the whole of the Saturday ‘Shabbat’ service.

The traditions and iconography were like nothing I’d ever seen before and I wonder how many people have had the opportunity to experience something so very different to the world that they grew up in.

I think we are all richer if we have been exposed to a variety of cultures. It makes us more tolerant and it helps us to understand the differences, and similarities, between one another.

I might never be wished “Shabbat Shalom” again but on that one occasion I’m glad that I was.