Golda Och Academy is a flagship of the national Schechter movement of Conservative Jewish day schools. It has two campuses in West Orange and a current enrollment of approximately 550 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. The school’s challenging dual curriculum combines excellent secular academics with intensive and analytical Judaic studies that emphasize Jewish values, history, language and culture. Since its founding in 1965, the school has advanced its mission to produce graduates who will take their place as dynamic, well-educated leaders who will guide their community into the future with Jewish values as well as a deep knowledge of our texts and traditions.
Inspiring each student to be a lifelong learner, Golda Och Academy – a Conservative Jewish day school – guides each student to achieve his or her unique intellectual, creative and social potential. We nurture every student to be a proud and motivated American Jew, true to the traditions and values that will drive an enduring worldview and purpose in living a life of meaning. A well-rounded environment and academic excellence encourage our students to be intellectually curious, analytical and independent thinkers, to contribute to the advancement of the arts and sciences and to serve proudly as citizens and leaders of their communities. We are building a modern kehillah – an exciting, responsive and ethical community. We teach our students to live joyously as knowledgeable Jews, committed to a personal relationship with God within rigorous study of texts, Hebrew literacy, observing mitzvot and a love of Israel.
Golda Och Academy is one of more than 70 Solomon Schechter Day Schools in the United States and Canada affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. The school was founded in September 1965, primarily through the efforts of Horace Bier and Rabbi Elvin Kose, and first opened at Congregation Beth Shalom in Union with a kindergarten and first grade. In 1977, the first senior class of nine students graduated from what was then the Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union. In 1979, Solomon Schechter began its transition from tenant to homeowner when the Roosevelt School in Cranford became available. That was followed seven years later by the purchase of the Irving Laurie Building in West Orange. In September 1991, with a great deal of pride and celebration, the Upper School moved into a newly constructed building on Pleasant Valley Way in West Orange, which became the Eric F. Ross Campus in 1995.
We received our accreditation from the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools (NJAIS) in 1995 which means that we successfully fulfill our mission and meet or exceed New Jersey Core Curriculum Standards. Between 2007 and 2010, the Eric F. Ross Campus was renovated. In 2008, the Administration and Board of Trustees of SSDSEU decided to consolidate its two Lower School campuses in Cranford and West Orange at the West Orange Lower School campus as a response to the shifting demographics in Union County and the surrounding area. Thanks to the generosity of the family of Golda Och, z”l, the School became Golda Och Academy in 2010.
The greatest goal of our founders was to produce graduates who will take their place as leaders in the community and whose commitment to Israel and to Judaism will inform their lives and their actions. With each graduating class, our students have continued to demonstrate remarkable academic success in higher education; our students and alumni have surpassed what anyone could have dreamed of on that day in 1965.