Not every family comes together by way of conventional circumstances. Some, like Josh Blumenthal and his family, take a more circuitous route. When Josh, a 68-year-old Croton resident married his second wife, who is black, in 1982, she came with three children from a previous relationship; he had two from his first marriage. Josh says he reveled in his new biracial Brady Bunch setup, but he didn’t know then that one day he and his wife would have primary responsibility for their grandson Jordan, whom the couple adopted at age 4 when Elise—Jordan’s mother and one of Josh’s stepchildren—was unable to care for him.
Though he was old enough to be Jordan’s grandfather, Josh embraced the role of father with both vigor and enthusiasm. “I used to tell Jordan that the only difference between us is 50 years,” shares Josh, whose fluid manner and muscular forearms seem to testify to Jordan’s active upbringing. “We did so many things together while Jordan was growing up. I’m a handyman, so Jordan used to help me make and fix things. We used to play touch football in the snow when he came up to my waist and basketball when he couldn’t even reach the hoop with the ball. I coached his Little League and soccer teams and taught him to swim and ride a bike. Jordan never needed a lot of toys lying around. He had one old toy—me!”
Josh’s marriage ended in 2004, but what endured is the closeness he and Jordan enjoyed from the start. Today, Jordan is a strapping 18-year-old sports star who co-captained his Croton Tigers football team, wrestled, and played lacrosse en route to his athletic scholarship at Western New England University. But while Jordan is unequivocally one of the main joys of Josh’s life, he is not the only one. Elise’s other child, Tamera, who was raised by Elise, has also emerged as an essential member of this modern-day nuclear family. Tall and pretty yet disarmingly demure for an all-star soccer goalie at Munay Soccer Academy in Ossining, Tamera seems to be blossoming a little more every day.
Jordan snuggles with his baby half-sister Tamera
“I’d say there’s really nothing unusual about the relationship between Jordan and Tamera,” Josh says. “Whatever the classic stereotypes about what an American brother and sister are would pretty much apply to them, as well.”
As with any standard-issue American brother, one of Jordan’s favorite family pastimes is needling his younger half-sister. “[Jordan] hangs out in my room when he’s over, just to annoy me,” says 12-year-old Tamera, who also plays basketball for two different teams. When Tamera’s allegation is lightheartedly challenged, Jordan wastes no time rushing to his sister’s defense, saying, “No, she’s right; it’s just to annoy her.”
Still, Jordan protects his kid sister in ways she may not even be aware of. “When Tamera went to a movie not long ago,” Josh shares, “Jordan protested that its content was too adult and therefore inappropriate for her. So, he definitely looks out for her.”
Together, these fantastic four have formed a loving, if unconventional, family, regardless of how much time they spend under the same roof. When asked if their status as an interracial family has ever been an issue, Josh doesn’t miss a beat answering.
When family bonds trump bloodlines: Josh Blumenthal’s step-grandson, Jordan, has been helping him with his handywork for years
“My life has basically been spent in two places—Mount Vernon and Croton,” he says, “and I can tell you honestly that I’ve never felt ostracized, disapproved of, or discriminated against here in Westchester. It was a different story in Ithaca, when I was in college at Cornell, but not down here. I’m certain my kids and grandkids would tell you the same thing.”
“I was aware of racism in middle school, but it never got to a physical level,” Jordan comments. “It seems to have tapered off in high school a lot. I think it’s almost out the window now.”
The troop has some big plans for the summer, especially since it’s their last together before Jordan heads off to college. Tamera is strenuously campaigning for an excursion to a water park, while Jordan says he’d be into a barbecue with their extended family. Elise, of course, would like to do both, but whatever the plans wind up being, rest assured that they’ll all be there together.