In 2008, Peter Berg became the fifth senior rabbi of The Temple since 1895. He is passionate about Jewish learning and meaningful worship, and is an advocate for social change. Rabbi Berg serves on the boards of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the ADL and Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students, among many others.
In 2013, Rabbi Berg was named by Newsweek and The Daily Beast as one of the 50 most influential rabbis in the U.S. In 2016, he was named by Georgia Trend as one of the 100 Most Influential Georgians and in 2019 as one of Atlanta’s Most Powerful Leaders. Rabbi Berg lives in Atlanta with his wife Karen, a teacher and tutor, and their three children.
See why his kids think he’s goofy and whose emails he gets by mistake.
Jaffe: My kids say I am too…
Berg: Goofy. They think it’s funny that I can be serious all day long and then come home and goof around. Sometimes they say, “If only everyone could see how the rabbi acts at home.”
Jaffe: How do you spend your days off?
Berg: In synagogue life, a full day off is rare, so I always treasure this time. I have a few simple priorities: spending time with family, taking a nap, drinking coffee, and trying new experiences.
Jaffe: Biggest regret?
Berg: I went straight to rabbinical school at Hebrew Union College from undergraduate work at George Washington University. I wish I had taken a gap year between the two. It would have been the perfect time to try something in my life that I would never get to do otherwise.
Jaffe: What are you reading?
Berg: “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” by Ibram X. Kendi. This important and difficult read highlights the racist thought that is alive and well in America.
Jaffe: If they made a movie about you, who should star?
Berg: That’s an easy one. Actor/director Peter Berg (“Friday Night Lights,” “Chicago Hope”). I sometimes get his email and Facebook requests anyway.
Jaffe: Atlanta inspires me to …
Berg: … roll up my sleeves and work in partnerships and coalitions. The rabbis here all work well together and enjoy each other’s company with a non-competitive spirit. There is a tremendous spirit of interfaith bridge building, which I have never experienced before. No matter how ambitious our goals, when we work together, we can achieve anything.