SPECIAL FOR THE AJT //
Peter Berg, the senior rabbi of The Temple, was recently honored by being included on the 2013 list of America’s 50 most influential rabbis, released by Newsweek Magazine and online affiliate “The Daily Beast.”
Berg is the spiritual leader for one of Atlanta’s oldest and largest (more than 1,500 member families) synagogues, and he has in recent years become deeply engaged with a number of social and humanitarian causes.
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Most recently, the rabbi pledged his support for a number of national and international social actions projects, including the Anti-Human Trafficking Initiative and the Open Jewish Project. He also has stayed busy moving The Temple in new and exciting directions, forging bonds with other philanthropic organizations and neighboring faith communities like the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and cultivating positive relationships with community leaders and politicians.
An active member of numerous religious and community service organizations including the American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Family and Career Services, AIPAC, the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and the Atlanta Rabbinical Association, Berg was both surprised and honored to be included on this year’s list of top rabbis.
“It’s a privilege to be recognized by Newsweek and ‘The Daily Beast,’” said Rabbi Berg. “But I think every rabbi here in Atlanta should be on this list. It’s a huge award for the Jewish community of Atlanta, which deserves special recognition not only for its enormous commitment to building a vibrant Judaism in the South, but also for being a visionary laboratory for the future.”
Billy Bauman, president of The Temple’s Board of Trustees, lauds Rabbi Berg’s dedication to his congregation and the greater community.
“As we approach our 150th anniversary at The Temple, we are so fortunate to have Rabbi Berg as only our fifth senior rabbi,” Bauman said. “[He] brings to our congregation the sensitivity, spirituality, leadership, energy and commitment to faith that very few could deliver. In five short years, he has endeared himself to all that have met him with his dedication to tikkun olam, our Atlanta community, our congregation and our Reform movement.”
Rabbi Alvin Sugarman, The Temple’s Rabbi Emeritus, also speaks highly of Berg.
“Rabbi Berg’s every act reflects the essence of our Jewish faith and heritage,” Sugarman said. “His pure soul, his integrity, his good heart, his sincerity and his concern for the well-being of all is a blessing to every life he touches.”
Committee members charged with selecting the top 50 rabbis for Newsweek and “The Daily Beast” admit their choices are subjective, though they do follow a consistent list of criteria.
“In crafting this list, we take into consideration a rabbi’s public profile and constituency size and the magnitude with which their ideas are shaping the Jewish landscape,” wrote Gabrielle Birkner, author of the 2013 list.
Rabbi Berg’s extensive resume, including his creation of the first multi-staff department team designed to foster outreach and relational engagement, and his involvement in several national vision groups defining the sustainable and meaningful future of Judaism, reflects a life of service and influence that more than meets requirements for inclusion on such a list.