Carrie and Ariel Berger grew up in Peabody and Fayetteville, N.Y., respectively, and have been active members of our community for many years. They met through Camp Tevya mutual friends,
now live in Marblehead, and are the proud parents of Eliana and Jackson.
Where did you each grow up?
Carrie: I grew up in Peabody and became a bat mitzvah and Ariel and I got married at Temple Ner Tamid in Peabody. I feel very fortunate to have had a strong Jewish community growing up at TNT, the NSJCC, Camp Simchah, and Camp Tevya. I have many friends from childhood and feel grateful to have lots of family locally to spend holidays and share special occasions together.
Ariel: I grew up in Fayetteville, which is a suburb of Syracuse. (I’m proud to say I knew about Wegman’s way before anyone in Massachusetts!) I went to Jewish day school for grades 1-3, and then to public school through high school. We were the family who drove to the Orthodox temple on Saturdays, so I would say we lived a Jewish life but not necessarily a particularly observant life, although we did have family dinners every Friday. I moved to Boston to get my master’s in public health and never left.
I hear you are both big Syracuse supporters. Can you share?
Carrie: I married into the love of Syracuse and have become a fan. My birthday is the end of March, and from the beginning of our relationship, Ariel told me if Syracuse is ever in the Final Four, we will need to celebrate another time. It actually happened for my 40th and we already had plans, so, fortunately, he picked celebrating my birthday over the game. (Just don’t ask him about it). We try and go to a Syracuse basketball game once a year.
Ariel: If you grow up in Syracuse, the university’s athletic teams are all you see and hear, so you can’t help but be exposed to it. And they had some great players and teams as I was growing up in a number of sports – particularly men’s basketball and football. So I got hooked early, and I never left them. I guess you can say you can take the boy out of Syracuse, but the opposite is a bit harder to do.
Can you tell us a little bit about your work life?
Carrie: I currently have my own business assisting small businesses with marketing, sponsorships, branding, and business development initiatives. In addition, I am a certified career coach and teach sports marketing and management classes at Salem State University.
Ariel: I work for a company called Evidera that does health economics and outcomes research for pharmaceutical, biotech, and device companies. They are owned by a company called PPD, which runs clinical trials and other related activities, and they are owned by Thermo Fisher Scientific. I help these companies get their assets –pharmaceuticals, devices, vaccines – on the market, and once they are on market, to help expand access to their products.
Carrie, you have been involved with the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore for some time. Can you describe your many roles there?
Carrie: I decided to leave a job at an advertising agency in Boston in the spring of 2000 and really wanted to spend a summer back at Camp Simchah in Middleton before searching for a job in my field. I called Sandy Sheckman [who became a wonderful mentor for me] at the JCCNS about opportunities, and there was a program director position available.
While I thought that would be just for the summer and then I would go back into the advertising/marketing industry, it actually was the start of many years in a variety of roles at the J. These included Camp Simchah co-director [with Scott Kaplan], children’s and family director, special projects director, and Maccabi delegation head. While at the JCCNS, I got my master’s degree in organizational management from Endicott College. After my professional career at the JCCNS, I served on the board of directors for many years and then interim executive director for a few months.
Carrie, you now serve on Epstein Hillel’s board of directors as well as being an active parent at the school. Which committee are you most involved with?
Carrie: I am currently a vice chair and have been involved since Eliana started kindergarten in 2013. I served on the marketing committee and the past few years have been the chair of the marketing and communications committee. I am proud to serve on this committee with dedicated volunteers who want to help promote EHS to the community. I am also on the governance committee and look forward to being part of the newly created EHS athletics committee.
Ariel, you served as chair of Epstein Hillel School’s board of directors from 2016 to 2019. What challenges did you face during that time?
Ariel: The easier question to answer would be “What challenges did you not have to face during that time? This is because when I was named to the board [one year before assuming the chair position], the school was facing several crises. Specifically, crises related to enrollment, finances, and leadership. The school’s numbers were low; our finances were reflective of the low enrollment, that a sizable proportion of students were receiving financial aid [which had to come from somewhere], and head of school transition.
CJP helped us commission a study to perform a 360-degree on the school, and that report identified a number of areas that required improvement. As part of that effort, we had formed a working group comprised of board members and community leaders, chaired by Jerry Somers. During that time, Amy Gold became available, and we interviewed and hired her. I was then named to the presidency of the board, with Robert Salter [the immediate past president] named chairman. Working hand-in-hand with Amy, we set out to remake the school. She focused on education and other aspects of day-to-day administration and management of the school; I focused on professionalizing the board, straightening out finances, and modeling good lay leader behavior, which is an important aspect of partnering with the professionals to have a successful school.
Fortunately, with a new head of school, staff leadership, support from CJP, and a rededicated board of directors, we were able to move things in the right direction.
During your tenure as president, what was your relationship with Arthur Epstein?
Ariel: Arthur was a wonderful person and so supportive of people in general, and of EHS and other Jewish causes specifically. I had been fortunate enough to meet Arthur previously through my involvement in the Jewish Federation [I served on – and subsequently chaired – the allocations committee]. In my role as president, I got to know Arthur a bit more as he was absolutely passionate about the school and its role in the community and in developing the intellectual, spiritual, and moral facets of its students.
We had several conversations during which he extolled the importance of investing in people and building strong communities. He was emphatic that you never feel better than when you give to support a great cause, and I can confirm that he is correct. Arthur was a funny, warm, and passionate individual. He always had time to talk and was always interested in what you had to say. I am a better person/leader for having spent time with, and gotten to know, Arthur Epstein.
We understand that Epstein Hillel is embarking on a campaign in memory of Arthur and that you both are cochairs of the campaign. Can you tell us why this is so important to you both?
This campaign is extremely important for Epstein Hillel School, and we believe students who graduate from EHS do really well and become leaders because of the strong foundation they receive from EHS inside and outside of the classroom. Arthur invested in the faculty, staff, and students at EHS and now it’s our turn to keep the investment moving forward with pride. As Arthur said, “You never know how good you will feel when you give to others.”
Tell us a bit about your family and what you do in your spare time?
Eliana is a sophomore at Marblehead High School. She plays soccer, tennis, and dances and is involved with BBYO and clubs at the high school. This year, she started a dance club at EHS as part of the after-school program.
Jackson is a 5th grader at EHS, and plays flag football, basketball, and soccer.
Both kids attend Camp Tevya, which was started by Eli and Bessie Cohen, who also were instrumental in founding Hillel [they are the “Cohens” in Cohen Hillel Academy], where we both attended as well [Carrie as a camper, CIT, and counselor and Ariel as a counselor, assistant boys’ head and boys’ head]. In our free time, we enjoy being active, cooking, reading, family trips, attending sporting events, and coaching and/or cheering from the sidelines for our kids! Θ