WEST ORANGE, NJ — Golda Och Academy recently hosted its first Community Service Day at the Wilf Lower School Campus with students in Pre-K through 5th grade participating in service activities benefiting local organizations.

Lower School Principal Carrie Siegel said the Golda Och Academy was "delighted to bring Community Service Day to the Lower School”

“From the moment students enter our Pre-K, we teach them the importance of tikkun olam, repairing the world, through acts of loving kindness," she said. "The ability to serve in a meaningful way within our community is an impactful approach to demonstrate these values for our students.”

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Students in Pre-K, kindergarten and first grade packaged 100 Shabbat boxes for the Friendship Circle to be delivered to hospitals and nursing homes. They also decorated Shabbat cards for the recipients of the boxes.

The second graders packaged bags for families in need for Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors with food and supplies collected over the last few weeks through the school’s food drive.

“I really liked how we got to pick out food for people who don’t have enough,” said second-grade student Alana Mechanick. “I also liked how our whole school did this for the first time.”

According to Stacey Rubinstein, president of Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors, the day was a success.

“We were honored to be part of Golda Och Academy’s day of service and very appreciative that families donated most needed items to our CHOW pantry,” she said. “We are stocking our pantry shelves and know the impact of this day will be felt for weeks to come.”

Third graders made snack bags for the JCC MetroWest’s Meals on Wheels and wrote cards for Israeli soldiers while fourth graders made activity bags for children for the Rachel Coalition and the Domestic Violence Shelters of Union County. To help young children in hospitals feel more comfortable, the fifth graders made blankets through Project Linus. 

“I liked that we got to help kids and brighten their day by making them feel at home in the hospital," said  fifth-grade student Elana Farbiarz. "It was great to participate in Community Service Day and help people who are not as privileged.”

Fifth grader Jesse Schiffman said it felt "really good to work together."

"We were doing a small thing that will make a big difference,” he said.

Throughout the day, Rabbi Meirav Kallush, Golda Och Academy’s Director of Israel Programming, met with each grade and had specific lessons related to their service activity. Her message for all students focused on the meaning of community and what each person’s responsibility is toward others in need.

“We teach our students that there is real need both in our world and right here in our neighborhoods,” said Golda Och Academy Head of School Adam Shapiro. “A day like this enables everyone to stop and think about what they can do to impact change and, even more importantly, what they can continue to do moving forward.”

The Upper School (grades 6-12) postponed its service day due to inclement weather and it will be rescheduled for a later date.