Cantor Michael Shochet receives the inaugural Ba’al Chazon Award for Vision

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Cantor Michael Shochet receives the inaugural Ba’al Chazon Award for Vision

Cantor Michael Shochet is the first recipient of the inaugural Ba'al Chazon for Vision award.

Shochet, Senior Cantor at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, VA, received the award at the ACC 2017 Convention in Las Vegas in June of 2017.

Recognizing cantorial vision both within and beyond the pulpit, the award will be presented annually at ACC Conventions to cantors who serve their communities in ways that transcend boundaries and for those who are inclusive and uplifting and who provide sustenance, wisdom, support, healing and comfort. This kind of cantorial work penetrates silence of all kinds. 

In its first year, six other cantorial nominees came to the attention of the award committee representing work that transcends boundaries.

Shochet received the Ba’al Chazon Award for vision in the area of chaplaincy. Temple Rodef Shalom Assistant Cantor Rachel Rhodes, who had submitted his name for consideration, presented the award.

“I am so pleased and honored to present my colleague and friend Cantor Michael Shochet with the inaugural Ba’al Chazan award for his dedication to his work as a police chaplain in Fairfax county,” Rhodes said. "Before becaming a cantor, Shochet was a policeman in the inner city of Baltimore. His experiences during those years influenced him to dedicate many hours of his cantorial career to the holy work of teaching, nurturing, and supporting the police.”

Shochet serves as the Chaplain Coordinator for the Fairfax County VA Police Department, the first Chaplain of the CIA, and only Jewish Chaplain at Langley, and chair and co-founder of the Fairfax County Community Chaplain Corps. Shochet previously served as the area Jewish chaplain for the FBI, Washington Field Office, is the immediate past chair of the Washington, DC Council of Governments Public Safety Chaplain's Group, which helps lead the area in chaplain training for first responder and military chaplains in the National Capital Region as well as coordinates chaplain response for major events. He is also was a sworn Auxiliary Police Officer with the Fairfax County Police Department. Shochet also received his Master Police Chaplain credential with the International Conference of Police Chaplains and serves on their national disaster response team.

Through this work, Shochet touches the lives of thousands of police over the course of their training and career. In fact, he is one of the first teachers to meet the new recruits when he gives a lecture about maintaining their spiritual welfare during the rigorous, emotionally draining, and sometimes even traumatic hours spent on the job. Later in their training, Shochet teaches them how to give death notifications with compassion and grace. 

As a police chaplain, Shochet goes on ride alongs with police officers to offer support during difficult situations, dispatches and trains chaplains of many faiths to address situations in other districts, works closely with officers who need spiritual guidance, and organizes the Communities of Trust coalition, which strives to create an environment of harmony between the police and local underprivileged communities. And he does this in addition to a rigorous full-time job as the senior cantor at Temple Rodef Shalom.

“Cantor Michael Shochet has made police chaplaincy a major part of his cantorate for the past 23 years. He gives his time willingly and graciously, and has changed the Fairfax County Police department in innumerable ways. It is an honor and privilege to present him with this award, and I know that the entire police department is here with us in spirit, applauding him and thanking him for his time, patience, dedication, and wisdom,” continued Rhodes.

Shochet’s work reflects positively upon the North American Reform cantorate.