Patriot Day Shabbat Service

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Provided by Congregation Ner Shalom

On Friday, Sept. 10, Congregation Ner Shalom hosted its Eighth Annual Patriot Day Shabbat Service. This special sabbath evening service honored Prince William County’s first responders, including firefighters, police officers, EMT, and active and retired military personnel.

Congregation Ner Shalom, located in Woodbridge, is Prince William County’s only synagogue and is pleased to connect with the whole community when opportunities like this service present themselves. Last year’s service was held on Zoom, and while it was still nice to see guests in their boxes on the screen, the in-person aspect was sorely missed. The congregation was thrilled to invite some folks back into the sanctuary this year.

Rabbi Lizz Goldstein led the service, which was broadcast live to members of the armed services via live streaming on YouTube, with additional leadership from congregational President Ethan Shipp.

Service Leaders and Dignitaries

Local dignitaries attending the service included Occoquan District Supervisor Kenny Boddye, Neabsco District Supervisor Victor Angry, Woodbridge District Supervisor Margaret Franklin, Chairwoman Anne Wheeler, Police Chief Peter Newsham and Deputy Chief Jared Phelps, and State Delegate Elizabeth Guzman. Due to Covid, the turnout of other first responders was lower than in past years, other than Fairfax County Police Officer Howard Mergler, who is treasurer of the congregation. However, the service honored all those who serve. Chief Newsham spoke, reflecting on Sept. 11, 2001 and the bravery of the first responders on that day and since, locally and around the country.

Ner Shalom’s Harry Kantrovich, a Retired Navy Command Master Chief Petty Officer, addressed the congregation. His speech honored the local county heroes who have died in the service of their community and their country, including Colin Wolfe, a member of Congregation Ner Shalom.

In deference to those in attendance not of the Jewish faith, most of the service was done in English instead of the traditional Hebrew. However, when a prayer was in Hebrew, the Rabbi explained where the meaning of the prayer could be found, and the integrity of the Jewish prayer service was maintained with thoughtful spirituality.

The service concluded with Rabbi Lizz leading the congregation in singing Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”.

Congregation Ner Shalom

Congregation Ner Shalom is dedicated to preserving the traditions of the past, pledged to serving the spiritual, cultural, educational and social needs of our congregation and the community in the present, and committed to providing innovative and progressive ideas to meet the challenges of the future. Ner Shalom is a diverse congregation reaching out to all people. We welcome everyone who is interested in participating in the lively, vibrant world of Reform Judaism. Ner Shalom is your Jewish community, as well as your extended family in Prince William County. For more information please call (703) 878-6904 or email

Lizz Goldstein is the rabbi at Congregation Ner Shalom in Woodbridge, the only synagogue in Prince William County.  She resides in Vienna and also works to build Jewish community among millennial activists in the DC area.  She can be reached at or through


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