100 Alumni We Love

Reflections on our Time at Hebrew University

By Jay Rosenthal and Dara Solomon, Toronto

Jay Rosenthal and Dara SolomonEven when I began my studies at Emory University in Atlanta in 1992, I knew I wanted to spend a semester at Hebrew U. But little did I know that later sharing cheese-toasts at the Rothberg cafeteria and playing cards at Reznik with these new friends would be the foundation of what would become the most meaningful relationships of my life. The “American boys” quickly struck up friendships with the “Canadian girls” and our social circle blossomed.

When I returned to regularly scheduled university life, my Hebrew U experience was never far from my mind. Reunions were planned, trips to new places scheduled and post-university life began to take shape. I landed in DC after university where there was a fairly large network of Hebrew U alumni. Later, when I arrived in San Francisco, a crew of Hebrew U alumni landed there, too – becoming a core of my new, California family.

Dara and I reconnected in 2000 while she was doing a summer internship at the Whitney Museum in New York and I was visiting for a camp friend’s wedding. We reconnected through a Hebrew U friend – Jonathan Bayer and his future wife, Janine Okmin (another HU alumnus). Following that fateful afternoon in New York – over blintzes at the Carnegie Deli – Dara visited San Francisco in the winter of 2000 and the rest is history.

After graduating with her Masters from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she moved to San Francisco and we got married in 2004. Shabbat dinners, Seders and high holiday dinners were sprinkled with HU friends who moved in and out of the Bay Area, as they do. Those friends became old friends, like family.

After the birth of our daughter, Stella, in 2009, the pull of grandparents eventually lured us back to Toronto in 2012 and our son Cy followed in 2014. Today, it’s a joy to reconnect with even more HU alum in Toronto. Texts and Facetime keep us connected with those still in San Francisco. Without those important relationships forged at Hebrew U, our lives would have taken a very different path.

  • Jay lives in Toronto where he is now Co-Founder and President of The Business of Cannabis, a platform for news, analysis and insights into the business of Canada’s cannabis sector 
  • Dara is Executive Director of the Ontario Jewish Archives and Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre in Toronto

Jay Rosenthal and Dara Solomon