About Us

History and Traditions

Golda Och Academy (originally named Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union) was founded in 1965 and was one of 70 Solomon Schechter Day Schools in the United States and Canada, and became the only Pre-K through 12th grade Solomon Schechter school. Our founders believed that an excellent education for Jewish students should include a grounding in the culture, history, and language of Judaism, and they created a vibrant and rigorous dual curriculum.
Students at the school were raised in the twin traditions of academic excellence and love of Judaism and Israel. The school grew and flourished throughout its first 12 years, expanding from a primary school to a full-fledged academy educating students from Kindergarten through the 12th grade. We graduated our first senior class in 1977. The school currently occupies two campuses in West Orange, located about two miles apart.

Thanks to the generosity of the family of Golda Och, the school was renamed Golda Och Academy in 2010. With each graduating class, our students have continued on to the top colleges and universities, moving into realms of leadership and achieving success in fields from law and medicine to finance and government. Our students and alumni have embodied the dream of excellence that began in 1965 when the school was born.
“Solomon Schechter is the place where I first realized that Judaism didn’t belong in a box. Tanach class is not the only time when Torah matters, Minyan is not the only time when G-d matters, and Neshama is not the only time when Israel matters. My time at Schechter is when I began to realize that all of those things should be woven throughout each day, indeed throughout our whole lives.”
—Seffi Kogen '09

Fast Facts

List of 10 items.

History of Golda Och Academy: A 50+ Year Tradition of Excellence

    • Learn how Golda Och Academy went from its founding as Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union in 1965 to the preeminent preparatory school in New Jersey for Pre-K through 12th grade Jewish education.

Who was Golda Och?

    • Golda Och

On December 6, 2010, Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union was officially named Golda Och Academy. Golda Och and her husband, Dr. Michael Och, were among the founders of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union in 1965.

Until her death on January 10, 2010, Golda Och was involved in the life of the school on many levels. “Golda did it all – she took on every role here and brought her incredible energy and commitment to every aspect of the school,” said former Head of School Rabbi Joyce Raynor. Golda Och played a pivotal part in our school’s development, taking on many positions over the years. She served three terms as Board President from 1979 to 1982 and was the school’s business manager for 10 years. Mrs. Och also taught Jewish history and was a president of the Parents’ Association. Her three children – Daniel, Susan and Jonathan – attended Schechter, and one of her nine grandchildren, Emily, graduated in 2013.
In addition to her formal roles, Mrs. Och was a valued advisor, respected mentor and beloved friend to generations of Schechter leaders, teachers, families and students. “Golda Och personified everything that is best in our school,” said Rabbi Raynor. “She inspired both her students and her colleagues to strive to reach their potential. Through her personal integrity, values, ethics and wisdom, Golda Och served as a role model to all who knew her.”

Golda Och was born in Montreal, Canada; she moved to the United States in 1957. At the time of her death, she had lived in Maplewood, New Jersey for 44 years. Mrs. Och was a long-time member of Congregation Beth El in South Orange where she served on the board. She was a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Albert A. List College joint program with Columbia University; she also held a master’s degree in Jewish history from JTS.

Golda Och and her husband were members of the Herskowitz Society of MetroWest, established in 2008 by the MetroWest Day School Campaign to recognize donors making significant endowment commitments to the community’s day schools. In addition, Mrs. Och chaired the MetroWest Maxine Fischer Scholarship Committee for 2007 and 2008 and served on the MetroWest Women’s Philanthropy board for many years.

Who Was Golda Och Slideshow