"It was my parents' choice to send me to a private school, and I think it made me realize who I am and allowed me to identify that much more with the Jewish faith," Cantor says in his buttery soft Southern accent.
Cantor's father, Eddie, a lawyer, ran a successful real estate company.
The seminal political experience of Cantor's youth was the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan as president.
The following year, Cantor laid the groundwork for what would become a critical political alliance.
After graduating in 1985, Cantor earned a law degree from Virginia's College of William and Mary and a master's degree in real estate development in 1989 from Columbia University.
The couple settled in Virginia, where Cantor joined his family's law and real estate firms, founding Trust-Mor Mortgage, a mortgage brokerage company.
Shortly before taking office, Cantor received a call from Alan Diamonstein, a veteran of the Virginia legislature and a Jewish Democrat.
Republican Kirk Cox, who was majority whip in the Virginia House of Delegates at the time, remembers that Cantor distinguished himself as a member of the chamber's Strategy Committee, which set overall policy.
But Cantor, who learned from observing President Reagan, understood the political value of supporting programs that would help middle class voters.
Cantor also helped secure a new home for the Virginia Holocaust Museum, which was rapidly outgrowing its space in Richmond's Temple BethEl.
The state decided to donate the building and Cantor helped raise funds for construction of the museum, says Ipson, by donating honorariums from speaking engagements.
The primary was marred by some thinly veiled anti-Semitism in the form of calls to Republican households in the district emphasizing that Cantor's opponent, Stephen Martin, an evangelical state senator, was "the only Christian" in the race.
In the ensuing years, Cantor has won re-election by sizeable majorities, and, given the racial and political makeup of the district, it is likely that he will be able to defend it until he draws his last breath or moves on to other, presumably bigger things.
As a congressman, Cantor has been notable not for his skills as a legislator, but for his rapid ascension within the GOP hierarchy.
Corruption thinned the ranks, too, inadvertently fueling Cantor's rise.