By Malkie Gordon Hirsch
One of the advantages to remaining local to the community you were raised in and having siblings there is the occasional impromptu Shabbos lunch that starts out as stopping by for Kiddush but then staying for the meal.
These days, with Shabbos ending so early, it’s easy to lose track of time while having fun sharing memories with siblings.
And of course, this type of occurrence becomes regular once a neighbor puts their house on the market and you sell said house to your brother.
Dovi became more of a fixture after Moshe passed and my brothers all took it upon themselves to volunteer to come by once a week to hang out with my boys.
It could be watching the game together or helping with homework, but the kids would look forward to the arrival of their uncles. Their presence couldn’t eliminate the pain of their loss but it definitely contributed in a positive way in those early months after the passing of their father.
Dovi was on Monday nights and rarely missed a week.
Years later, after I married Jeremy, my brothers didn’t stop by as often as they had before, save for Dovi who then moved here and at this point, we’ve all become accustomed to his trademark two knocks, opening of the door, and announcing his arrival.
I didn’t quite know what to expect when he moved here, since up until now he’d been living in Far Rockaway and we had little face-to-face interaction, but I suppose his chilled demeanor allowed for it to feel like it’s been this way for way longer than a few short months.
He comes by on Friday nights at 8 when his wife Mari falls asleep with his kids during bedtime, and sometimes I hear a soft knock at the door at an ungodly hour of the morning when one of his 7-year-old twins wants a play date.
Where else can one possibly show up before the sun officially rises besides a sibling’s house?
In the short time since his move onto a block I’ve been on for the last 15 years, he’s managed to secure his place here socially both with new friends and at a shul he’d never gone to prior to his move.
I recall that first Shabbos when he told me about his intention to not only go to this new shul to check out the davening and the overall vibe, but also to survey the Kiddush situation, which had the reputation to deliver.
I’m not sure what sealed the deal for him, but in his no-nonsense but quietly confident way, he decided where his place officially was without much thought. And also, the kiddushim were top notch, so that only helped the decision-making process.
For some, it takes years to decide where their makom is—they have a hard time deciding and tend to try out different shuls until they feel the way they think they should, to make it the place they commit to week after week.
Dovi is the opposite of that.
It’s the way he was as a kid and the way he dated for marriage.
It’s the way he fathers his kids and it’s the way he’ll probably always be.
He makes a decision and sticks to it. He’s loyal and dedicated.
He’s that acts-of-service friend who everyone wants to have because no task seems too inconvenient or difficult for him.
He’ll get into a car for a drive to Chicago (that’s a 14-hour road trip, for anyone counting) as effortlessly as he does going grocery shopping for Shabbos.
His 7-year-olds are twins and I recall thinking in my older sister smug way that this would finally be the thing that would finally overwhelm him. But I was wrong.
He still managed to squeeze in three nights per week of hockey as a means of exercise and a way to connect with friends at the same time. Dovi has his repertoire of foods that he proudly makes for his family on a regular basis, unlike the days where we could count on one hand what our father was capable of making (eggs, toast, tuna) for us kids in my mother’s absence.
Dovi can cook a plethora of impressive fare and it gave me a true sense of pride as we walked into his house this past Shabbos after getting an invite to a Kiddush he was hosting. Along with the foods, there was a table full of men from his shul and new friends he had met recently that sat around talking, singing, and enjoying.
As I surveyed the table and took notice of some of the guys who have been my neighbors for years, it made me realize how differently siblings see each other.
How it took me years to achieve the type of comfort and familiarity in a new community that he’s attained in just a few months.
It took me this experience of having an opportunity to see him not only as my little brother but as a fellow neighbor to understand how much more he’d developed over the years where we didn’t get to spend Shabbosim together. It says in Mishlei: It’s better to have a close neighbor than a distant brother. How fortunate I am to have a close neighbor who’s also a close brother.
On the day that the sale was finalized, and I came home to tell my boys who’d be moving there, I wondered to myself how it would be having family live so close by. Now, months into this new social experiment called life, I can only speak of how positive it’s been for us all. I look forward to many more years of impromptu Shabbosim with Dovi and his family.
Malkie Gordon Hirsch is a native of the Five Towns community, a mom of 5, a writer, and a social media influencer.