By Malkie Gordon Hirsch
I love shock value.
I can’t help it, it adds so much to conversation.
An important distinction is that I don’t embellish stories and I don’t need to because if you know anything about my family it’s that I belong to a tribe of supremely interesting folk and we collectively possess the gift of gab.
For example, all I need to mention is that I have a brother-in-law who happens to be a farmer to receive that perplexed look from others and the following questions:
1. “A farmer? Does he wear overalls?” Yes, a real farmer. He probably owns overalls but he mostly wears jeans and T-shirts—black and white only because of frumkeit. (That’s a joke—he’ll wear blue jeans, too.)
2. “As in a real operating farm or a farmhouse with grass and trees? Was it featured on HGTV?” A real farmhouse built by his father. Instead of paintings on the walls, they hang their favorite rifles. It’s never been on HGTV and can probably use a makeover. I can pass on contact info if a reality show wants to give the farmhouse a makeover.
3. “Are there cows?” Yes, a bunch of different types. You’d think cows would be cute, but mostly they make the place smell really bad. Like cows, I guess. Advantage—they supply milk.
4. “Do your sister and brother-in-law live on the farm?” No, my sister is from the Five Towns—that would never happen.
To supply a bit of backstory, before the times of shidduch résumés, when setting up guys and girls was a much simpler operation, my father met Eliezer one evening in Sh’or Yoshuv at Minchah.
He was there on a lead from a local shadchan, but upon asking for Eliezer’s name and realizing it was not the name he had received from the matchmaker, he went on his way.
Until my father received a phone call from Eliezer’s mother, who wanted to place an ad in the newspaper that week.
Sometimes the thing originally thought of as a random occurrence needs to hit us in the face for us to realize that it’s all part of a bigger plan.
After all, what were the chances that my father would meet Eliezer, a total stranger, the day before his mother called my father inquiring about advertising rates?
My father asked about her son’s eligibility in the dating world, which at that point was nonexistent, as he was young and hadn’t officially started dating.
And the rest is history.
The story made the paper once things were official, and a decade and change later, we assembled in Chestnut Ridge, NY, for Dini and Eliezer’s son’s bar mitzvah this past Shabbos.
Avrumi, the bar mitzvah boy, who’s their oldest son and second child, takes after his father.
He can drive a tractor, lead cows out to pasture or hook them up to be milked, lein a parashah perfectly without seeming the least bit worried, and do just about anything requested of him.
He has his father’s appetite; watching him eat will make you wonder where the food is going or if it’s just being burned as energy before it has a chance to settle on his small frame.
He loves constructing things, building his own menorahs out of copper pipes and things along that vein, like his father. Just don’t ask them to sit down and do nothing. That definitely won’t happen.
Eliezer has always been a doer in tandem with being somewhat of a dreamer and a strong believer in the concept that anything is possible.
The combination of those things has resulted in Eliezer taking a business he inherited from his father and turning it into something more than it had ever been previously. He produces duck and poultry products in addition to starting up a dairy farm a few years back that has put out the best-tasting chalav Yisrael organic milk, yogurts, and cheeses on the food market to date.
When I think of an idea of something he could make, instead of giving me reasons it can’t possibly work, he gets a look in his eyes that tells me that he’s going to try it.
He hails from a quieter people than the animated, rowdy, and loud Gordon family who are constantly raising the decibel as they speak to be the one heard over everyone else. (OK, maybe that’s just me but I have the most interesting things to say.)
The Gordons speak with their hands and frequently get up and act out a story with their body to get the best reaction from others.
The Franklins look on in amusement at the Gordons and eat their meal in relative quiet.
The Gordons order omelets at local eateries. The Franklins raise chickens and use their eggs to make their own lunch.
They’re people of the land, bottle-feeding deer, churning butter, and delivering calves when necessary. The Gordons frequent the mall.
So yeah, you could say there are slight differences in the way we’ve approached and been exposed to life, but the results of a union between my sister Dini and my brother-in-law Eliezer have been advantageous ones.
The kids innately have that “Don’t ask why; ask why not” attitude from both Dini and Eliezer, and it was clearly displayed this weekend time and again as I’d look on in shock at the number of people attending the simcha, at Dini and her cool demeanor, and at the meals—I was told that Eliezer had prepared all the proteins for each meal in addition to going upstate every week to oversee his son’s leining, cut the grass on his half-an-acre property, and still had energy to host 60 members of the immediate family with his usual inclusive nature and big smile.
I’ve said this before as I’ve attended her home for yomim tovim for the last few years and I’ll continue saying it: She’s always been my younger sister but I constantly learn life lessons from her.
I learn about what makes her friends want to be around her and count her as their best friend (acceptance, selflessness, patience, inclusivity), why she’s always been up there in our family as the favorite child (obedience, great babysitting skills, and easygoing—pretty much the opposite of me), and why she’s a great mother and wife (dedication, loyalty, and a lot of love).
Mazal tov to the Franklins and Gordons upon the latest simcha in the family. May we continue to celebrate happy occasions.
Malkie Gordon Hirsch is a native of the Five Towns community, a mom of 5, a writer, a social media influencer, veteran real estate agent, and runs a patisserie in Woodmere.