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Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Out of her (family) tree

"So anyway," said Mrs Nunn, "I told the vicar I'm Jewish now."

Mrs Nunn has always wanted to be Jewish. Not from a religious perspective, I don't think (I assume one is still allowed to convert), but from a cultural perspective. "I just feel Jewish," she says, before going on to list a whole load of stereotypes which she feels apply. "My family is very musical. I'm good with money. I have that, you know, Jewish sense of humour..."

I stop her before she strays too far into unintentionally racist waters.

You see, this is kind of my fault. Mrs Nunn has been enjoying researching her family tree, and has always maintained she's Jewish. This is not as easy to disprove as saying, "You're mental, Mum, back in your box," which works for most situations. This is because Mrs Nunn's maternal grandfather is something of an unknown quantity. By all accounts he was a Greek bloke who popped over to London for a bit, knocked up my great-grandma and then buggered (no racism intended) off back to Greece.

"There are lots of Jews in Greece." Mrs Nunn asserted.

"Are there?" I asked, not being particularly aware of a large Jewish community in Greece.

"Yes," said Mrs Nunn. "Greek Orthodox. Very well known."

"You know that the Greek Orthodox church is Christian, not Jewish, right?" I asked Mrs Nunn.

"Shut up," said Mrs Nunn, thus effectively ending the argument.

So, how is this insistence on her nascent Judaism my fault? Well, for her birthday, we decided to get her a DNA test that she could use with her family tree tracing. Turns out - genetically-speaking at least, she is only bloody Jewish.

And she's told the vicar.

I was surprised that the vicar didn't reply, "Don't worry, mate, so was Jesus." Apparently what actually happened was an "I am Sparticus" scene in which several other members of the Parish Church orchestra also stood up and announced their Jewish heritage. I would have liked to have seen that.

This has also given Mrs Nunn free rein for nagging ("I can't help it; I'm a Jewish mother."), advice on money ("Trust me. The reason us Jews have been hated throughout history is we know what we're doing with cash, and we work hard for it.") and short temper ("It's my Mediterranean temperament" - despite the fact that apparently her temper comes from her solidly British father rather than her calm, half-Greek mother.). She also suggested we could use our Jewishness to get the toddler into some of the higher-performing schools in the area. I'm not sure they accept DNA results as entry criteria, but perhaps it's worth a try.

So yes, Mrs Nunn is Jewish. And apparently so am I. Mazel tov!

1 comment:

Jack Nunn said...

For what it's worth, I'd take the 'ethnicity' results from genetic tests with a MASSIVE pinch of salt, as they only use about 2000 people as 'markers' from the global population. Effectively it's drawing a vague, manmade line in the rich and intermingled tapestry of the human genome and saying 'right, you're labelled as British/Greek/Chinese, as you're family have been here a while'. Naturally, there are more advanced ways of doing this - but Ancestry and other commercial tests currently are not that advanced!

And please don't get me started on implying that certain genes imply certain behavioral characteristics....

The 'we've found a third cousin stuff' is spot on though, that's pretty much 99.9% accurate - which is amazing!!