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Citizen of the Year - 2008

Cantor Michael A. Shochet


Michael A. Shochet is the Senior Cantor of Temple Rodef Shalom of Falls Church, Virginia, where he has served since 1998 as its first ordained Cantor. He came to Virginia after serving Temple Sinai of New Orleans since 1994. Cantor Shochet received his Investiture and Masters degree in Sacred Music in May, 1994 from the Reform Jewish Movement’s seminary, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.


Dennis Hickey presents Michael Shochet's achievements

Dennis Hickey presents Michael Shochet's achievements

Cantor Shochet serves as the chaplain coordinator of the Fairfax County Police Department, where he has served in a volunteer capacity since 1999. He is also an Auxiliary Police Officer in Fairfax County. Shochet also serves as a chaplain with the FBI, Washington Field Office, and with the CIA Protective Programs Group in Langley, VA, where he recently became its first chaplain. He was on the scene at the Pentagon following September 11 as a police chaplain. He is the co-chair of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government’s Public Safety Chaplains’ Subcommittee, representing Police, Fire and EMS chaplains in the Washington Metropolitan Region.


Prior to his entering the Cantorial seminary, Cantor Shochet had a unique career path, beginning with television news reporting, in which Cantor Shochet worked for several television news stations including WMAR-TV in Baltimore, the NBC affiliate station where he served as a general assignment reporter, WJZ-TV (Baltimore), and the US Information Agency. He then took an unusual turn by becoming a police officer with the Baltimore City Police Department and served as a patrol officer in Baltimore’s inner city for about a year. After being involved in a critical incident call in Baltimore, where his partner was shot, Shochet ultimately decided to leave law enforcement and enter into the Hebrew Union College Seminary to become an ordained clergy/cantor.


Cantor Shochet, upon completion of Cantorial School and his appointment as Cantor of Temple Sinai in New Orleans, became a chaplain with the New Orleans Police Department joining together his pastoral role with his previous law enforcement career.


Cantor Shochet was selected to participate in a national working group with the FBI to help create curricula for community clergy on the topic of spirituality of first responders. He is certified in Critical Incident Stress Management and Pastoral Crisis Intervention in addition to being a certified Senior police chaplain from the International Conference of Police Chaplains. He currently teaches “Spiritual Survival” at the Fairfax County Criminal Justice Academy.


In April, 2008, Cantor Shochet received a prestigious Community Leadership competitive award from the County of Fairfax through its Volunteer Fairfax organization. In May, 2008, he was awarded the prestigious Lehrman-Pikser Award for community service, awarded annually by the Washington Metropolitan area Jewish Social Services Agency (JSSA). In 2007, he received a “Community Stars” award from the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington for volunteer police chaplaincy services in the community. Cantor Shochet also received an award from Kent Gardens Elementary School in 2001 for his service on September 11, 2001 at the Pentagon. Cantor Shochet was recognized for these awards for his long community service as a volunteer Police Chaplain, serving the greater Washington area in this role. Cantor Shochet is written about in Jews in Blue a book on contributions of Jews in Law Enforcement by Jack Kitaeff, published by Cambria Press, Youngstown, NY.


Cantor Shochet is involved with the leadership of the national Reform Jewish Cantorate. He is a former Vice President of the American Conference of Cantors, having served on the Board of Directors since 1995. He is one of the three editors of The Cantor’s Lifecycle Manual, a publication of the American Conference of Cantors.


In addition to his work as a chaplain, Cantor Shochet performs in concerts of Jewish music in the area and beyond. His musical group, Beignet Yisrael, which performs Jewish folk music in a New Orleans style, was featured at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2000, and currently has a CD published. A second CD is on the way.


Cantor Shochet lives in McLean, VA with his wife, Denise and their children, Jake and Zack.

Cantor Shochet's Award Presentation Pictured left to right: Dennis Hickey, Captain Bruce Ferguson, Denise Shochet, Michael Shochet, and President Tom Speelman

Cantor Shochet's Award Presentation
Pictured left to right: Dennis Hickey, Captain Bruce Ferguson, Denise Shochet, Michael Shochet, and President Tom Speelman




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2018 Fairfax Resolves Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution