Jewish Leaders Defend Rev. Raphael Warnock Against Anti-Israel Accusations

Rev. Raphael Warnock is being defended against charges of being anti-Israel--by Jewish leaders

Rev. Raphael Warnock is being defended against charges of being anti-Israel–by Jewish leaders who say he has a long history of friendship with Jewish community.

In the hours after a gunman in Pittsburgh opened fire at the Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018, the phone rang in Atlanta for Rabbi Peter Berg, the leader of The Temple, Atlanta’s oldest Jewish congregation.

It was the Rev. Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

“Raphael was the first to call,” Berg said. “(He said that) during this horrific moment of anti-Semitism in our country, he and the Ebenezer family are with us.”

The pastor offering Berg comfort in 2018 is now running as a Democrat against Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler in an increasingly ugly fight that could determine control of the U.S. Senate.

Now in a one-on-one battle with each other, the attacks between Loeffler and Warnock have rained down, including Loeffler’s recent accusation that Warnock is “anti-Israel.”

It’s an allegation made heavier by the weight of history in Georgia, where the Black and Jewish communities joined forces in the 1950s in the face of deadly racist and anti-Semitic attacks against them both.

The Temple, where Berg presides, was bombed by white supremacists in 1958 after then-Rabbi Jacob Rothschild joined the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., then the pastor at Ebenezer, to oppose racist Jim Crow laws in the South.

As pastor and rabbi of those same congregations decades later, Warnock and Berg have become friends.

Every year for more than a decade, Warnock has spoken at The Temple on the Friday night of MLK weekend, while Berg has given the sermon at Ebenezer every Sunday of the same weekend.

Loeffler’s characterization of Warnock as a danger to the Jewish state is at odds with the man Berg said he considers a “close friend and clergy confidant.”

“We often joke that every rabbi needs a pastor and every pastor needs a rabbi,” he said. As a religious leader, Berg does not endorse political candidates, but he said, “The recent attacks against Rev. Warnock misrepresent his position on Israel.”

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