Born in 1959, Darrel grew up in Victory Park, a predominantly Jewish suburb of Johannesburg. The family—made up of Darrel, his parents, and his young brother—occupied a four-bedroom house on a half-acre of land just a short walk from the local Jewish day school. For Darrel, “Everything was pretty easy . . . growing up.” Although the family was not particularly religious, Darrel’s mother lit candles on Friday night and he attended a Zionist camp every summer. In his final year of high school, he won a Bible quiz sponsored by the South African Zionist Federation, for which he was awarded a trip to Israel to compete against other Jewish students from all over the world. Unfortunately, he did not perform as well in this second competition: Israeli yeshiva students took first, second, and third place.
Darrel’s family moved to Canada when Darrel was in his second year of university. Because there were no direct flights to Toronto from South Africa, the family flew first to Zurich and then to New York. From New York, they made their way to Buffalo, where they stocked up on goods prior to arriving in Canada. Unhappily for the Hotzes, North America was experiencing a terrible year in terms of weather and the winter jackets they had purchased in South Africa (said to be sufficient for surviving Arctic temperatures) proved inadequate. They immediately purchased a new batch of winter coats appropriate for Canada.
The Hotz family’s first few years in Canada were not easy ones. The dental credentials of Darrel’s father, an orthodontist, were not recognized and he was unable to practice for several years as a result. Darrel’s mother, who had not been in the labour force for twenty-odd years, had to return to work in order to help make ends meet. Eventually though, the family got itself settled and Darrel was able to complete his university education, going on to attend Osgoode Hall Law School and pass the bar. He worked for two law firms, one Jewish and one not, before starting his own practice.
Sandra Hotz showing off a favourite rug, [197-?]. The Hotz family brought many rugs (including this one) with them to Canada since there were restrictions on how much money emigrants could take out of South Africa. They eventually sold these rugs to a Canadian dealer. Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, accession 2014-9/5.