Vice-President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff at the consecration ceremony of their residence. (Photos courtesy of The Temple)

Earlier this year, Vice President Kamala Harris, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, and their staff launched a national search to source a mezuzah to consecrate the Vice President’s official residence in Washington D.C.

After consulting rabbis, historians, museum and synagogues across the country, Harris and Emhoff asked to borrow a mezuzah belonging to The Temple synagogue in Midtown.

In the Jewish faith, a mezuzah is a scroll of parchment containing Torah verses placed inside a decorative case and hung by the main doorway of a home. This is the first time a mezuzah, the abiding sign of the sanctity of a Jewish home, has been placed on the residence of a nationally elected leader of the United States. 

The Second Family told Rabbi Peter Berg they narrowed their search to The Temple based on its historic involvement with civil rights and social justice, including the fight against antisemitism.

Rabbi Peter Berg stands at the doorway of the Vice-Presidential residence with the affixed mezuzah.

Rabbi Berg flew to Washington to officiate a private Chanukat Habayit, the ceremony during which the Temple mezuzah was placed on the front entrance of the residence.

“It was a great honor to be a part of American history,” Rabbi Berg said. “This moment was particularly powerful for the Second Gentleman, whose parents came to the event and saw him for the first time since COVID.”
  
Rabbi Berg said when he began the ceremony, “we all began to tear up as we knew we were making history.”
  
“I had the privilege of speaking about the significance of The Temple – Atlanta’s oldest and largest Jewish synagogue – and our proud history,” Rabbi Berg said. “Loaning the mezuzah is a real honor for us.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the first name of the Second Gentleman. He is Douglas Emhoff, not David.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.