The Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union in West Orange, New Jersey, has received a five-year, $15 million challenge gift from the Jane and Daniel Och Family Foundation, New Jersey Jewish News reports.
The gift was given in honor of Golda Och, the mother of investor and Schechter alumnus Daniel Och, to help ease the tuition burden for middle-income families, enhance academic excellence at the school, and improve facilities. An initial $5 million payment from the Och Family Foundation will be added to the school's endowment. The rest of the gift will be paid out as matching funds are raised. Eventually, the school's endowment will provide up to $1.25 million annually for up to 230 additional middle-income tuition grants.
Golda Och, who died in January at the age of 74, and her husband, Michael, helped found Schechter in 1965. Over the ensuing four decades, Mrs. Och taught Jewish history at the school and served as the school's board president, business manager, and president of the parents' association. Later this year, the school will be renamed the Golda Och Academy in recognition of the largest grant in the school's history and one of the largest endowment gifts ever made to a Jewish day school in North America. The six-hundred-student school will retain its mission and affiliation with the Solomon Schechter Day School Association, the umbrella organization for the Conservative Judaism movement.
"Jane and I are thrilled to recognize my mother's decades-long commitment to the Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union," said Daniel Och. "I am truly fortunate to have been among the first students enrolled at SSDSEU and to be able to return the gift of my education by honoring both my mother's legacy and my alma mater."