For the category of Most Romantic Third Date, the metaphorical trophy goes to the Ronens with their spur-of-the-moment trip to Prague and Budapest.
In 2009, Ofer and Shayna Ronen met on Match.com. Their connection was instant and their chemistry undeniable. It was that week-long third date that confirmed they not only liked traveling together: they loved it. And they definitely loved each other. Ten months later they both quit their full-time jobs and left to travel the world for a whole year. On the first day of that trip Ofer proposed. Together they visited 26 countries before traveling back to Manhattan for their wedding. Shayna reflects, “Needless to say after a year of traveling and wedding planning we were thrilled to come home to California and put down some roots!”
In December of 2019, the Ronens moved into their new westside home. “We dreamed of living close to downtown so we could take advantage of the amazing restaurants, shops, and events Danville has to offer. Now that we live here, we walk downtown almost every day and we are looking forward to so many more years ahead enjoying this incredible community.” One of the driving factors of being on the westside was the proximity to Shayna’s nonprofit, I Can Do That! Performing Arts Center. They recently underwent a huge transformation and relocation, and now can be found as both a source of learning, entertainment, and also great coffee!
After graduating from New York University with a degree in Psychology, Linguistics and Philosophy, Shayna came back to the area where she grew up. After seeing the need for a local performing arts company, she started her nonprofit here in Danville with her longtime friend, Jarusha Ariel. Their first focus was contributing to the arts education of the youth in the area. It has now grown to a fantastic theatre with yearly productions, classes for all ages (including adults!), and guest instructors that would make Broadway jealous! They, of course, faced challenges in the last couple of years, as Covid hit right when they were starting to fundraise for their new space. Finding a way to stay operational was a real test, especially with the personal move the Ronens had just completed too, “In fact, for 6 months we ran theatre classes out of our driveway because we couldn’t operate our nonprofit inside due to COVID. I was worried about being too loud or a nuisance for our new neighbors, but instead they all came and told us how amazing it was to see so much joy over a period that was so difficult.” A true testament to the power of laughter and music – something I Can Do That! has in abundance.
Ofer grew up in Israel. He has a Bachelor of Science degree and a Masters in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Cornell. He is what his wife lovingly calls “a serial entrepreneur,” specializing in new tech concepts. He founded the first startup to ever graduate from Google’s Area 120 incubator. He is a lifelong runner, biker and swimmer, bringing all three interests together by completing triathlons. Their hobbies never stray too far from their daily lives, “We both find so much joy and fulfillment in what we do and often find that our time for hobbies and extra curriculars end up being spent learning more about our trades.” The whole family always sets aside time to stay connected to their Jewish roots by participating in the Chabad of Danville and San Ramon and attending other Israeli festivities.
Shayna and Ofer have two lively boys, Ari and Cobi. Ari is 8 years old and a talented musician. Over the last year he taught himself beatboxing: he can hum and beatbox at the same time. Shayna said that if he hears a song once, he’ll know it forever.
Cobi is an active 6 year old, taking his newfound skill of bike riding to the next level by riding everywhere… and he means everywhere. He also just lost his first two teeth! Cobi is a bonafide animal lover, and was the driving force behind the Ronens getting their two-year-old Maltipoo, Lilah. “We gave her that name because she is mostly black and Lilah means ‘night’ in Hebrew. Lilah is always looking to play with our feet or to chase a ball and is the perfect cuddly nap partner.”
True to the performers that they are, the motto that the Ronens model their lives after are: “To succeed in life you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone, and a funny bone,” said by Reba McEntire. They’ve worked so hard to make their dreams come true. Shayna says, “We love that we live the life that we have designed. We do what we love at work and we do what we love at home. Ofer and I are a great team and always looking at how to empower and support each other. Our hope is to teach our boys to dream big and find their own joy whatever it may be and that hopefully their gifts can make a positive impact in the world.”
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By Alexandra Sullivan, Resident since 2017