Chloe, Scott, Stephanie and Drew Ginsberg.

HONORABLE MENSCHION: Stephanie and Scott Ginsberg

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HONORABLE MENSCHION: Stephanie and Scott Ginsberg

Chloe, Scott, Stephanie and Drew Ginsberg.
Can you tell us a little about where and how you each grew up and your Jewish connections?

Stephanie: I grew up in Andover, the oldest of four girls. My dad is a neurosurgeon who built and developed several medical businesses in addition to founding New England Neurological Associates, a large neurological practice in the Merrimack Valley, and Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital Network. My mom was at home but also heavily involved in the community, including being on the board of directors of local hospitals. She was the first female bank director of the Andover Bank in the ‘70’s. She was involved with the temple and sisterhood, and she served with Rabbi Robert Goldstein at Merrimack College’s Jewish-Christian-Muslims Relations Center. In addition, she is known as “The Godmother of Northeast Rehab,” where she worked part time as director of public relations and often strolled around the hospital, stopping to talk with staff or welcoming patients and their families.

When I was young, there were not a lot of Jews in Andover. I was one of two Jewish kids in my grade at the Pike School, which is a small private elementary school in town. My mom is from New York and from a strictly Conservative background, which by today’s standards is closer to Modern Orthodox. Since there were few Jews at Pike School, my mom went into the school and made latkes and educated the students about Hanukkah. She did this for all four of her daughters.

My dad grew up in Lowell and his family was not nearly as religious as my mom’s, but they followed many Jewish traditions, celebrated the Jewish holidays and were very focused on family.

In Andover, my dad worked long hours as a doctor and my mom ran the home. We had a kosher home, celebrated all the Jewish holidays, and missed school while at services for two days of Rosh Hashanah, and always went to both Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur services. It did not matter if we fell behind in school, the High Holidays were a priority.

We celebrated Passover strictly for eight days, including changing our dishes. Our family belonged to two temples: Temple Emanuel, a Reform congregation in Andover where we went to Hebrew school and Sunday school; and we also belonged to Temple Beth El, a conservative congregation in Lowell that no longer exists but was the temple that my dad’s family belonged to when he was growing up. We attended Temple Beth El for the High Holidays because my dad liked to see his old friends, my mom preferred the (very long) services, and we had assigned seats, so it did not matter if we were late. Many of my summers were spent at JCC day camp on Captain Pond in Salem, N.H., and one summer at Camp Tevya on Lake Potanipo in Brookline, N.H.

Shabbat was celebrated as a family. Every Friday night, we were expected to be home for dinner. We were encouraged to bring both Jewish and non-Jewish friends. We often went out after dinner, but we were expected to be home for our family Shabbat, which included lighting the candles and saying the blessings over the bread and wine and catching up with each other after a busy week.

My grandparents on my mom’s side were Zionists before Israel existed and my parents have always been strong supporters of Israel and Jewish causes. As a child, I remember visiting my grandparents’ home and reading all their plaques in recognition of their support of their temples and for Israel. Being charitable has been instilled in me by my parents and grandparents.

Scott: I grew up in Marblehead. My parents, Larry and Shirley Ginsberg, both came from Revere. They were high school sweethearts and married at age 18. My mom, born Italian-Catholic, converted to Judaism. Because she converted at a young age and wanted a Jewish home, she easily morphed into the role of the classic Jewish mom and wife. My parents had four boys by the time they were 24.

My father was in the real estate business and my mother was a homemaker and helped my father with bookkeeping. I am the second oldest of the four boys. I attended Hillel Academy before it grew into the school it is today. A lot of my Jewish education came from my family and Hillel. Unlike most Jewish families, my parents did not emphasize education. My parents had married young and built successful real estate and finance businesses without college degrees. They did not encourage their kids to continue schooling past high school. I am the first generation in my family to go to college. I worked days and went to night school at Salem State University and ultimately received a master’s in business from Columbia University.

Our home was next to Temple Sinai, where we belonged. There was a path from the temple right to our home. The rabbi would sometimes walk over when he needed more people for a minyan. We would occasionally show up in bathing suits as we were hanging out at the pool when the rabbi arrived to retrieve us. Our family celebrated all the Jewish holidays and often included people who would otherwise be alone on the holidays. My parents sponsored an annual Passover Seder at the JCC for the community, where friends and family would help serve. This instilled in me a sense of tzedakah. In the summers, I went to Jewish camps, including Camp Simchah at the JCC and Camp Bauercrest in Amesbury.

Scott and Stephanie Ginsberg
You are both North Shore natives. How, when, and where did you first meet?

Scott: In 1988, I was living in Marblehead, working full-time and taking night classes. Most of my friends were away at college. I was determined to earn my degree and I was taking night classes. I also wanted to meet a Jewish girl who shared my background and values. To improve my social life, I decided to enroll in a class at Boston University where there was an abundance of Jewish girls. My daily schedule was extremely busy as I added a drive to Boston almost every day. While at BU, I attended many Shabbats and events at Hillel, where I developed wonderful lifelong friendships. I dated a few BU girls and was eventually set up on a blind date with Steph. By our second date, I knew I would marry her. The rest is history.

Please tell us a little about your children.

We have two children, a son and a daughter. Drew, 26, is living and working in NYC. Chloe, 22, will be graduating from Union College in June. We celebrate Jewish holidays together as much as possible. Both kids went to Camp Micah in Maine for years as campers and as counselors. At camp, they created lifelong friendships with Jewish kids, developed a positive Jewish identity, and traveled to Israel.

Stephanie, your family has long been involved in the hospital arena. Was that one of the reasons you gravitated to physical therapy for your own work life?

I chose to become a physical therapist after volunteering in a PT department as a high school student. I originally learned about physical therapy from my dad, a neurosurgeon. Many of his patients had physical therapy and rehab after surgery. He also told me stories from his Army days of the wonders of rehab. With therapy, severely injured soldiers relearned to walk and regain their independent lives. This was also his inspiration for building the original Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital, which is now a network of four inpatient hospitals and many outpatient sites. Though my first job was at the Rusk Institute at NYU, I worked as a physical therapist at Northeast Rehab for many years and now sit on the board of the Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital Network.

Scott, you chose an unusual profession and have been described as a “casket entrepreneur” and a “market disruptor.” Can you share a bit about the industry and what drew you to it?

Unexpectedly, my path to becoming an entrepreneur began during my teenage years. When I was 17, my father ended up with hundreds of caskets due to a foreclosure on a loan he provided to a funeral home. This unique circumstance led my father to sell caskets out of a garage. He capitalized on a newly enacted regulation known as the Funeral Rule that gives consumers the right to purchase funeral products and have them sent to the funeral home of their choice.

As odd as it sounds, this situation became a significant turning point for me, introducing me to the world of business and giving me a unique perspective on the funeral industry.

I have been in the casket business for over 20 years. I established a casket manufacturing company, originally supplying exclusively to funeral homes. Noticing their hefty markups and limited selections, I realized a better approach was necessary. In 2016, leveraging my understanding of the Funeral Rule from my teenage years, I launched Titan Casket to offer caskets directly to consumers at a fraction of funeral home prices and with many more options. My main objective has been to shield families from the additional burden of financial strain during times of emotional loss. This effort has propelled Titan Casket to become the leading national direct-to-consumer casket provider. I’ve always believed that Titan Casket embodies the spirit of tzedakah, offering support to those in need and embodying the principles of righteousness and charity.

It seems as though you both learned about giving back to your community from your parents. Can you let us know what organizations you are involved with and that you care so deeply about?

From a young age, our parents instilled in us the importance of giving back to the community and supporting the institutions that have aided our growth. Supporting Jewish organizations has also been a priority.

We have actively participated in our children’s schools. Scott served on the board of Pike School for eight years, and Steph served a five-year term on the board of The Governor’s Academy, where she and Chloe both attended.

Together over the years, we have worked on various committees including The Boys & Girls Club auction, sponsored a student at Esperanza Academy, supported Bellesini Academy, and contributed to numerous Jewish organizations including Chabad, the Jewish Federation of the Merrimack Valley, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and our temples.

We also have encouraged our children to be charitable. Knowing there was a long list of underprivileged children with handicaps waiting for custom adaptive trikes at Northeast Rehab, our son Drew decided to raise money to purchase a custom adaptive trike for his bar mitzvah project. This project – with a goal of raising enough money for one adaptive trike – actually raised enough for three trikes. This project continued and morphed into many underprivileged kids with handicaps receiving bikes over several years and eliminating the waiting list.

Scott, I understand that as a young child your family organized a large Thanksgiving dinner in Lynn open to everyone. Could you share some of your earliest memories of these gatherings?

Growing up, my parents would host large Thanksgiving dinners, welcoming anyone who lacked family or a place to celebrate. It wasn’t unusual to have 30 to 40 guests at our home, many of whom were strangers to me. I recall asking my father about the growing number of attendees. He’d simply say, “It’s just another potato in the pot,” highlighting his belief that there was always room for one more. Those who knew him understood my dad’s philosophy was all about sharing food. And he loved food!

This tradition continued to grow, and my parents began sponsoring a Thanksgiving dinner at Nandee’s restaurant in Lynn for anyone alone or for those who could not afford their own dinner. The event grew to welcome up to 500 people, with many of my parents’ friends volunteering to help serve. We even delivered food to those unable to attend. It was a community effort rooted in generosity and open-heartedness.

You both visited Israel on a leadership mission in 1995. What effect did that trip have on your lives?

We were newlyweds on our 1995 leadership mission to Israel. It was the first visit to Israel for both of us. We traveled with a great group of local, mostly North Shore people and created lifelong friendships. We learned about Israel’s history and politics, while also sightseeing and enjoying the local culture. We were in Israel when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. Aside from the horror of that, the trip was wonderful on many levels, but especially because it solidified our understanding of the importance and the significance of Israel for the Jewish people even with its inner turmoil. This is a value we have instilled in our children. The timing of this trip to Israel helped us as a young couple solidify our Jewish identity and together create our Jewish home.

You were instrumental in helping to create a new temple in North Andover – Congregation Ahavat Olam. Can you tell us a little about that process?

This opportunity was unexpected but has proven to be very rewarding. Rabbi Idan Irelander has been a leader of our community and our friend for years and when we heard his vision for a new temple in North Andover, we quickly became strong supporters. Our congregation, which is not even two years old, is strong and growing. It has been a learning process for us, and none of us involved have ever participated in anything like this. We have just taken one step at a time and the path has formed. We have had a few instances of luck – like a temple in Lawrence, Congregation Anshei Shalom, donating Torahs and artifacts to us – and we quickly found the temporary space we are currently using. It’s been a lot of work, especially for Rabbi Idan and his wife Einat Irelander, but it’s been a fulfilling adventure. We now both serve on the temple board.

How do you spend your free time when you’re not working or volunteering?

We have a home in Gloucester and in the summer, spend a lot of time there. In the winter, we have a tradition spanning more than two decades of traveling to Mont Tremblant in Quebec for some skiing and winter fun with friends and family. Together and often with our kids, we enjoy hiking, biking, and exploring NYC. Θ

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