by Sarah Lessing, Freelance Writer
Moving your family to a different state in the midst of a pandemic and days after giving birth is not something one can do without strong motivation. But that is what Abby Michael-Doiny and her husband chose to do last summer. The Connecticut native and mother of two was driven by her desire to rejoin the warm community she knew as a child and to send her three-year-old daughter Naomi to her alma mater, Southern Connecticut Hebrew Academy (SCHA).
A GENERATIONAL EXPERIENCE WITH SCHA
When they were looking for a school that provided a great curriculum and enriching Jewish education, the decision came naturally to Michael-Doiny and her husband to choose SCHA, even if it meant leaving her teaching position of 17 years at P’TACH at Yeshiva University high school for boys.
Michael-Doiny started at SCHA (formerly New Haven Hebrew Day School) in first grade with kids of all levels of observance. She found more than just classmates and teachers. “I had Ms. Katz as a first grade teacher and, to this day, she still cooks for me. She made Chanukkah cookies for my daughter because she knows Naomi doesn't have a bubby (grandmother),” she explains. Ms. Katz still teaches seventh and eighth grade, along with four other teachers from Michael-Doiny’s time at SCHA.
Michael-Doiny’s parents had an incredible experience through their daughter’s school connections and had the opportunity to absorb the Jewish education she was exposed to, becoming personally involved and embracing a more observant lifestyle. “Rabbi Moshe Y. Hecht, who founded the school, stood as a strong figure and a close friend of the family for years,” she shares.
SURROUNDING HER DAUGHTER WITH “LOVE AND KINDNESS”
SCHA was founded in 1946 in New Haven by Rabbi Hecht with only four students at the time, and was moved to its current, more spacious campus in Orange in 1970.
Michael-Doiny describes her SCHA experience as a good balance between her own choice of leading an observant Jewish life and SCHA giving her the tools to go to college with a solid Jewish background. She went on to earn two master's degrees in education from Columbia University.
The SCHA family has grown since Michael-Doiny’s childhood. Naomi plays with the children of her mother’s childhood friends. This year Michael-Doiny deepened her SCHA connection by becoming a social studies, English and American history teacher.
Learn more about SCHA at schacademy.org.