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Prayer of the Guest Chaplain of the U.S. Senate: Rabbi Peter S. Berg on 12 December 2023

Guest Chaplain: Rabbi Peter S. Berg, The Temple, Atlanta, Georgia
Date of Prayer: 12 December 2023

Mr. OSSOFF. Mr. President, thank you for the recognition this morning.

It is a pleasure to be with you, Mr. President, here this morning as we, together, represent the State of Georgia, an obligation that we both cherish, an obligation I cherish sharing with you. And it is a pleasure to be with you here, Mr. President, this morning to open the Senate, having heard such a moving prayer and such words of wisdom from Rabbi Peter Berg of The Temple in Atlanta, GA.

Rabbi, on behalf of the U.S. Senate, we thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule tending to your congregation and providing light and inspiration to our constituents in Georgia to provide such wisdom and a blessing to those of us here in this Chamber who labor each day to do the work of the people and to advance the interests of the United States.

I thank you, Rabbi Berg, for your leadership at this moment of trial for Jewish Americans in Georgia, across the country, and for Jews around the world at this moment that frays the bonds between faith communities. I thank you for your interfaith leadership, for your consistent calls for solidarity, compassion, and mutual love and respect between all people of all faiths.

It is particularly fitting, Rabbi, that you joined us during Ḥanukkah. And, Mr. President, to have Rabbi Berg here as we approach the sixth night, during this moment when so many Jews feel such anxiety and fear amidst the overt expression of anti-Semitism such as we have not seen for a generation, we draw upon the Ḥanukkah story–one of endurance and resilience and survival–for inspiration, a story that can inspire all people of all faiths.

Finally, Mr. President, I would note, as you and I together represent the State of Georgia–for the first time in its history represented by a Black man and a Jew–that to have Rabbi Berg here representing The Temple’s civil rights commitments in history–The Temple, which in 1958, as you know, Mr. President, was bombed by White supremacists in an attempt at vengeance for Rabbi Jacob Rothschild’s alliance with civil rights leaders and Dr. King in the American South–it is particularly powerful to have Rabbi Berg here with us this morning.

He leads, of course, the congregation where I was bar mitzvahed. We are grateful for Rabbi Berg’s spiritual leadership.

I yield the floor.

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Ossoff). The Senator from Georgia.

Mr. WARNOCK. Mr. President, it is my honor and joy to join you in welcoming our good friend Rabbi Peter Berg to the U.S. Senate today.

Rabbi Berg, thank you so very much for your inspiring prayer. It lifts, before all of us, our highest ideals and reminds us of the important work that we are called to do together.

It is always great to see you. As I often say, every Baptist preacher needs a rabbi. And Peter Berg is not only the rabbi at The Temple; he is my rabbi. And he is my friend.

For more than 15 years, Rabbi Berg has led The Temple, Atlanta’s largest and one of its most historic synagogues. Its history is so very important not just for Atlanta’s Jewish community but for my own church, the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King served and, indeed, for the entire city of Atlanta. You are such an important leader in our country.

For more than 50 years, Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, led by Dr. King, has had a special relationship with The Temple. After Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize, some folks in Atlanta didn’t want to celebrate it. They weren’t certain that that was worthy of recognition. But it was Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, The Temple’s then-senior rabbi and a champion for civil rights himself, who helped to bring the city together to commemorate that important moment in the movement for Georgians. It was an interracial dinner, and that, in and of itself, was a movement forward at a time of deep divisions and some of the darkest hours of our country.

And the special relationship has sustained to the present day, where Rabbi Peter Berg, who is the fifth senior rabbi in The Temple’s history, and I, the fifth senior pastor in the history of Ebenezer Baptist Church, have carried on that tradition of ecumenical, spiritual friendship. And that friendship is genuine.

As you know, Rabbi, we have done a lot of important work together, and I am so grateful for the long history of friendship between our two congregations. This past March, I was honored to have you to serve as the guest preacher for Ebenezer’s 138th anniversary, and you preached with all the fire of any Baptist preacher I know.

In fact, every year, our congregations come together to observe the MLK holiday, and we worship and we work together as one beloved community.

But beyond the doors of your congregation, Rabbi Berg has been a stalwart champion for change in Georgia. He and I have served together on too many occasions to count–from the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students to Faith in Public Life, Faith Forces Against Gun Violence, the Georgia Interfaith Public Policy Center; our work together addressing the issue of mass incarceration in our country; standing up against bigotry, racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia. Wherever hatred rears its ugly head, we have spoken time and time again together, as one voice. And because of that intersection of faith and justice, you will see Rabbi Berg and you will hear his voice time and time again.

We don’t have enough time for me to run through all of Rabbi Berg’s accolades, of which there are many. Time and time again, he has been recognized as one of the most influential spiritual leaders in our State and in our Nation.

So on behalf of the State of Georgia, I join Senator Ossoff in uplifting our appreciation for Rabbi Berg, who has been a source of counsel and a partner in making what Congressman Lewis called “good trouble.”

And so during this season of Ḥanukkah and during this season of Advent, I lift the words of Isaiah, who said that “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. “

May our lights continue to shine in this world.

Rabbi Berg, I am so blessed to have you as a spiritual brother.

With that, I yield floor.


Contribute a translationSource (English)
Eternal God,
may Your Name be invoked only
to inspire and to unify our country
but never to divide it.
We ask Your blessings
upon our U.S. Senators
and all who serve this body,
that today and every day,
they lead wisely
and with civility,
working together
for our common good.
Tonight, Jews all around the world
will light the sixth candle of Ḥanukkah.
We will do so in a world
that is teeming with xenophobia and hatred.
Let us never forget
that this is a time of year
where we all bring light and hope
to despair and to darkness.
Be with us now, God.
Make us strong to do Your will.
Help us to understand and proclaim the truth
that not by might and not by power,
but by our spirit alone[1] Cf. Zechariah 4:6 
can all of us prevail.
Let injustice and oppression cease,
hatred and cruelty and wrong pass away.
Bless, O God,
the lights of this season.
May they shine their radiance
in this historic Chamber.
They kindle within us
the flame of faith and of zeal that,
like the Maccabees of old,
we bravely battle for Your cause.
May our Senators be blessed today
to use their God-given light
to chase away the darkness.
Let us resolve to do our share
to hasten the day
by taking a true measure of life,
by learning to face life,
to judge the challenges that are set before us
with realism,
with courage,
and with understanding.
These things we ask in Your Name, O God,
until the radiance of peace and righteousness
for all of God’s children
shines to the ends of the Earth.


118th Congress, 1st Session. C-SPAN. Congressional Record, Issue: Vol. 169, No. 204 — Daily Edition (Senate – December 12, 2023)




1Cf. Zechariah 4:6



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