Alumni Spotlight - Dara Solomon

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Dara SolomonDara Solomon is director of the Ontario Jewish Archives. She’s also a married mother of one who lives in Toronto. She attended Hebrew University from 1994 to 1995.

What was your most memorable experience at Hebrew university?
The travelling we did as a group, seeing Israel and travelling to surrounding countries, was most memorable. Early in the year, we spent the High Holidays in Turkey and attended services at a synagogue in Izmir. The experience gave me a chance to see Sephardic culture up close. During the January break, we visited Barcelona and Paris, also very impactful experiences.

How did your time there make an impact on your development professionally and/or personally?
Well, it was my first time living away from home. It was very exciting to be living in a dorm with students from all over the world. I made close
friends with students from other Canadian and American cities, with whom I am still in touch. And, I even married one of them! Jay Rosenthal, a fellow student from Boston, and I were friends during the time we spent at Hebrew U. It was a few years later, when re-connected in New York during the summer of 2000, that I knew he was “The One.” When I completed my masters at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2001, I moved to San Francisco, where he lived. We have been together ever since and we moved from San Francisco with our daughter Stella to Toronto, my hometown, in 2012.

How did you get started in your current career?
As undergraduate student at the University of Toronto and at Hebrew University, I majored in art history. At Hebrew U, I was fascinated by seeing the ruins of the sites I had learned about as a student at Hebrew Day School. It made me feel very connected to the land and to Jewish history. I went on to study arts administration, working and interning in art museums in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. When we moved back to Toronto, I accepted the position of the director of the Ontario Jewish Archives, to bring the stories of the Jewish community to life through exhibitions, online initiatives, and other programs. Our collection here is pretty magical! (The OJA is a department of the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. It’s responsible for acquiring, preserving and making available documentary sources related to the Ontario Jewish community.)

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
In 2006, I joined the team at the Contemporary Jewish Museum where we opened a brand new Daniel Libeskind-designed museum in the heart of San Francisco’s cultural district. I spent six years there, putting much of my early Jewish education to work, curating art exhibitions that made Jewish concepts and ideas accessible to a broad audience.

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