The youngest of five children of Irvin and Miriam Kamenetz, he grew up in Lochearn. He worked in his father's pharmacy and discussed current events around the dinner table. At the Gilman School, he was named "class politico" in 1975. Also in that class was Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the future Republican congressman and Maryland governor. The two disagreed on just about every issue, Ehrlich said, but "there was never any bitterness, any partisanship, mostly laughs."