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Ner Shalom History

In 1970, Jacob and Joan Cohn placed an advertisement seeking Jewish families to form a congregation in a Prince William County newspaper. Seven responded. These families became known as the Prince William Jewish Congregation and then later Ner Tamid or “Eternal Light.” They met in member’s homes. The first President was Jacob Cohn.

About a year later on the other end of the county, the Jewish Congregation of Manassas held their first Friday night service in the home of the Jackmans, one of the founding members. By the following year the congregation had a new name, Bayis Shalom, which means “House of Peace.” The Bethel Lutheran Church in Manassas provided a home on Friday nights. Soon Rabbi David Schudrich was traveling from Maryland two weekends a month to lead Friday night services and Saturday religious school. Member Harley Tabak was helping him with music and officiating at High Holy Day services. A Torah scroll was donated and a beautiful pine portable ark was built.

By the mid-eighties, the two dozen member families of Bayis Shalom recognized that the Judaism in the Prince William area would be better served if there was a large enough congregation to bring a rabbi to the area and eventually to build a building. In 1985 contact was made with Ner Tamid on the eastern side of the county. Joint meetings were held first with the two boards, and then with the two congregations. Bayis Shalomers were very encouraged by the friendliness of the Ner Tamidites, and were very impressed with Cookie Tendler’s challah. At a congregational meeting it was agreed that merging would be a good thing. Thus, from Ner Tamid and Bayis Shalom, Congregation Ner Shalom or “Light of Peace” was born. Ner Tamid’s rabbi, Samuel Volkman, became the new congregations’s first rabbi. Next, Ner Shalom needed a meeting place that would be equally convenient to people from each end of the county. When Community Baptist Church received our phone call inquiry, the pastor’s wife Betty Sanders responded with “Praise the Lord.” Ner Shalom had a temporary home.

By 1991, Ner Shalom owned outright the 10 acre parcel of land on Spriggs Road that would later become home to Temple Ner Shalom. That same year Jonathan Katz took over as Rabbi for the growing congregation. Groundbreaking for the building took place in October 1993 and the temple was dedicated on October 16, 1994. Ten years later, in 2004, we welcomed Rabbi Jennifer Weiner as our next religious and spiritual leader.

In 2014, Congregation Ner Shalom celebrated 20 years in its building at 14010 Spriggs Road, Woodbridge, Virginia. Ner Shalom serves the needs of Jewish families and individuals in Prince William, Stafford, Loudon and Fairfax Counties, along with the Cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. Under the leadership of a Board of Directors and Rabbi Lizz Goldstein, and with a host of dedicated volunteers, we offer a wide range of services, activities and educational programming for both children and adults.

Today’s 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. We are a diverse congregation reaching out to all people and making a conscious effort to make everyone feel comfortable and welcome. We welcome everyone who is interested in participating in the lively, vibrant world of Reform Judaism. Judaism stresses community. Ner Shalom is your Jewish community, as well as your extended family in Prince William County, Virginia.

Thu, April 18 2024 10 Nisan 5784