Golda Och Academy’s Walk for Life Raises Funds for Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation


WEST ORANGE, NJ - Students and faculty of West Orange’s Golda Och Academy laced up their sneakers and joined together on May 29 for the 22nd annual “Walk for Life” to benefit the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation—one of the nation’s public bone marrow registries that helps find children and adults find donors for bone marrow transplants. While the event is organized by the school’s National Honor Society (NHS), Walk for Life is a school-wide event, with fundraising efforts from all grades and walks at both the Lower and Upper Schools.

To prepare for the event at the Lower School, the fifth grade Va’ad (student council) met with Navah Kogen, GOA’s coordinator for experiential education at the Upper School, who spoke about the meaning of the walk and what the funds are used for. The fifth graders then wrote letters to the rest of the elementary school students explaining the walk and the importance of raising money for it.

At the Upper School, GOA alumnus Jon Cohen (Class of 2007) met with students prior to the walk to share his experience as a bone marrow donor. After screening a short video detailing Gift of Life’s work and its particular importance to the Jewish community, Cohen shared his story of getting swabbed at a Hillel donor drive, while attending Rutgers University, and being confirmed as a match several years later. Cohen was flown to Washington D.C. for the donation procedure and assured the students his recipient is in good health.

Sign Up for E-News

“Walk for Life is an extremely moving event in our school,” said junior Mira Blecherman, president of NHS. “For one afternoon our whole community walks to raise money and awareness for the Gift of Life foundation and to bring more Jews into the blood marrow donation system. Walk for Life is NHS's biggest fundraiser, and we are extremely grateful for the enthusiasm and pride with which it is received at GOA.” 

Walk for Life at GOA initially began when its founder and then West Orange-resident Jay Feinberg was diagnosed with Leukemia. According to Rabbi Joyce Raynor, GOA’s head of school, Feinberg was told the best chance of finding a match was from the Ashkenazi Jewish community. Thus, the Feinberg family contacted the school (among other local organizations) asking if students would participate in a walk on a Sunday to raise money to offset the costs of donor screening. Since Raynor couldn’t make a walk mandatory on a weekend, she agreed to have a walk on a school day.

“It was incredible how his entire family mobilized,” said Raynor, who recalls the year that Feinber’s mother came to thank the students. “I will never forget that moment,” she said. “The room was packed with students and faculty, but when I introduced Mrs. Feinberg there was instant silence. The kids knew they were doing something important. They were involved in saving a life.”

Feinberg said, “We are so proud to partner with Golda Och Academy for over 20 years. When I was first diagnosed, the students banded together to organize the Walk for Life to raise money and help find my matching donor. Once my donor was found and I received a successful transplant, the Walk continued and has been a constant reminder in the community of why it’s important to raise awareness for bone marrow and blood stem cell donations. Monies raised have helped offset the laboratory costs associated with adding new donors to the registry, thereby giving patients in need the hope that their match will be found. It has been incredible to watch this event grow and continue to touch the lives of so many. I cannot thank Golda Och Academy enough for its dedication to our lifesaving mission and support throughout all these years.” 

This year, Gift of Life Special Projects Coordinator Nick Hudson walked with the Lower School. Hudson spoke to the elementary school students prior to heading outside to walk and thanked them for helping to save lives.

Anyone between the ages of 18 and 60 can be swabbed for the National Bone Marrow registry through Gift of Life, either during a donor drive or using an at-home kit. GOA seniors are offered the opportunity to get swabbed prior to graduation, and GOA hopes to offer additional swabbing opportunities for adults at school functions. For additional information, click HERE.

TAP into Livingston, TAP into West Orange and TAP into West Essex are proud to highlight one of our main sponsors, Golda Och Academy.

TAP into Livingston, TAP into West Orange and TAP into West Essex thank Golda Och Academy for their continued support in helping us to deliver important news to the residents of these communities on a daily basis. Because of sponsors like Golda Och Academy, TAP into Livingston, TAP into West Orange and TAP into West Essex are completely free to subscribers.

To learn more about becoming a sponsor of TAP into Livingston, TAP into West Orange or TAP into West Essex, contact Jackie Schatell at (201) 618-7444.

Located in West Orange, NJ, Golda Och Academy is an accredited private independent school offering a college preparatory private school experience to students from Pre-K through 12th grade, while nurturing Jewish identity and knowledge. In the tradition of Solomon Schechter schools, the school grounds a rigorous academic curriculum in the culture and tenets of Conservative Judaism, while welcoming students and families from a range of synagogue affiliations and Jewish expression. The school is located on two campuses with a Lower School and an Upper School, which are located about two miles apart in West Orange. The schools serve approximately 550 students from more than 70 communities across New Jersey including Livingston, Millburn/Short Hills and Westfield.

Golda Och Academy

  • Wilf Lower School Campus— Pre-K - 5, 122 Gregory Avenue,West Orange, NJ 07052, Phone: 973-602-3700
  • Eric F. Ross Upper School Campus— 6 - 12, 1418 Pleasant Valley Way, West Orange, NJ 07052, 973-602-3600


The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Local Children Invited to Register for Essex County Summer Camps

February 19, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Children of all ages are invited to participate in spring and summer camp opportunities at the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, Essex County Codey Arena and the Essex County Environmental Center.

The zoo has several weeklong camp adventures that will introduce children to the extraordinary world of animals, nature and science. Campers and their parents/guardians are ...

How Do I Decide Which College to Attend?

Now that college acceptances are rolling in, how do I decide which to attend?

Your hard work in high school has paid off. You took your SAT/ACT exams, got the best grades you could, and filled out as many applications as you needed to. Acceptance letters are starting to come in and you need to make a decision on where you will go in the fall. It's hard to decide!! Here are some tips and ...

Paterson Firefighter Opens Up About Struggles, Urges Others not to Suffer in Silence

February 8, 2018

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - Not a week goes by when a tale of heroism and bravery on the part of firefighters is not told. For them, running into a burning building is as natural as running out of one is for the rest of us.

That became apparent again on Monday when members of the Paterson Fire Department responded to a fire at 268 Main Street, which led to the eventual total collapse of ...

Upcoming Events


Wed, February 21, 10:00 AM

Estelle Finkel Center for Learning, Livingston

Estelle Finkel Center for Learning Presents ...


Wed, February 21, 6:00 PM

Livingston Public Library, Livingston

Free CASA Essex Volunteer Information Session

Giving Back Law & Justice


Sat, February 24, 4:00 PM

Lobby - Office Building, Livingston

Gun Violence Prevention & Congressional Candidates


Livingston Public Library Prepares for NJ Makers Day

February 12, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — The Livingston Public Library will host its third annual Makers Day on Saturday, March 10. Last year, 350 people attended Livingston Library’s Makers Day and enjoyed a variety of interactive activities ranging from sewing and paper crafts to robotics and circuitry.

Makers Day is a statewide initiative designed to celebrate, promote and introduce ...

Let the Games Begin

I am truly awed by the Olympics.  Watching these superb young athletes on TV inspires me to renew my membership to the gym and pursue my lifelong dream of taking home the gold.  


The problem is that in my deluded head, I can see actually see myself standing atop the podium.  I am wrapped in a puffy designer ski coat with a huge piece of bling slung around my neck ...

In the Driver's Seat

Honey, I am going to take the Roadster out for a quick spin around the sun. I’ll be back in a few million years.


That’s nice dear. While you are out, could you pick up a gallon of milk?


In what has to be the greatest road trip of all time and space, Elon Musk, the visionary inventor, engineer, and billionaire investor loaded his very own red Tesla ...