Rosh Hashanah Message: Rabbi Peter Berg
Rosh HashanahCommunity

Rosh Hashanah Message: Rabbi Peter Berg

Rabbi Peter Berg shares his thoughts and inspiration for the Jewish New Year.

Rabbi Peter S. Berg is the senior rabbi of The Temple.

Rabbi Peter Berg, of The Temple
Rabbi Peter Berg, of The Temple

A Year of Wholeness

A few years ago, a man in his thirties took his own life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. After his death, his psychiatrist went with the medical examiner to the man’s apartment, where they found his diary. The last entry, written just hours before he died, said, “I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.” Susan Szeliga, from New York, said about her own struggle with mental illness, “Most important to my recovery was unexpected kindness from strangers who never even realized that they made my days bearable. On one particularly hard day, a smile from a bank teller brought tears of gratitude to my eyes.” If the care of strangers can mean so much, how much more valuable is the care of friends.

This year, we all need friends who pay attention. The Atlanta Jewish community is a community of friends, of caring, and of healing. Let’s be here for each other – not like Job’s friends in the Bible -scolding, accusing, and blaming – but like the friends Job really needed — friends who understand, friends who listen, friends who encourage, and friends who pay attention. Let our Atlanta Jewish community pull back the veil of silence so that the light can come through. This is who we are. This is what we do. To those who feel invisible and unheard. Those who feel isolated and strange. Those who feel, at the beginning of the New Year, in exile.

Your community is here for you. We see you. We hear you. We love you. You are needed and you are loved. You are not alone. We will sit with you in your darkness, we will cry alongside you, we will take your hand and lead you to the light of day – when you feel ready. And we can help you find the resources you need.

The New Year calls upon us to be brave and strong and to find compassion and contentment. May we choose this New Year, as the Israelites did on the shores of freedom’s sea, to take a breath and a big step forward and to reach out. May we honor and nurture our whole selves and accept each other as genuine. May we be for each other, the friends we really need this year, giving us strength to let the light shine through the cracks of darkness, healing our souls with joy and laughter. Shanna Tovah.

Rabbi Peter Berg is the Senior Rabbi of The Temple in Atlanta, Ga.

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