Editor's note: We knew his name; we knew his business. We knew about his philanthropy and leadership skills. It wasn't until his family decided to honour his memory by endowing the Health Club at the Ben Weider Jewish Community Centre that we were privileged to learn more about Jack Steinberg, z"l and the passion for philanthropy he inspired in his children.
Jack Steinberg’s legacy:
February 2002..Successful businessman and devoted community supporter, Jack Steinberg, was admired for his generosity of spirit and commitment to the entire Montreal community.
a family of givers
That’s part of his legacy; values that daughter-in-law Ruth Steinberg sees reflected in his children, including her husband, David.
“Even though she never met him, Ruth lovingly remembers anecdotes and pieces of history,” says David. “It’s a result of her inquisitive nature and determination to learn more about me in our early days together!”
Born in Hungary, Jack came to Montreal when he was 5 – the oldest of 6 children. His first job was delivering groceries by horse-driven cart from the family owned grocery store started by his mother Ida.
As the business grew into the successful Montreal institution known as Steinberg’s, Jack inspired respect with hard work and by never losing touch with his roots.
“I sell bananas and cornflakes,” he would say, even when he oversaw
the company’s maintenance and equipment purchasing.
"My father was warm and giving and related to everyone – at all levels, “ says David. “And he continued going to the office every day until his death in 1985 at the age of 83.
Passionate about sports – Jack was a strong swimmer and skied well into his 70’s - he started going to the Mount Royal Y in his 20’s. David remembers going to the health club with him many times– his office away from home.
That connection to the Y would last an entire lifetime and culminate in the recent gift to the new health facility.
“ My father strongly believed in hands-on Tzedakah, and in giving back to those who had given to him,” says David, “whether it be diving boards for the Montreal Swimming Club and the Y or Christmas baskets for the residents of a small farm in Lachute where he spent many summers as a child.
“ He would often say that that we owed the community
that had been good to us. “
Jack Steinberg and his wife Gertrude had 3 children – Sharon, Leesa and David. Today they have all embraced his spirit of philanthropy and continue to be inspired by his legacy of giving – and doing.
“My father loved this community,” says David. “He never lost confidence in the future; it never occurred to him to not to be optimistic.