A Veteran Rabbi’s Vocal Defense of Religion, America, and Israel https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/religion-holidays/2024/02/a-veteran-rabbis-vocal-defense-of-religion-america-and-israel/

February 21, 2024 | Allan Arkush
About the author: Allan Arkush is the senior contributing editor of the Jewish Review of Books and professor of Judaic studies and history at Binghamton University.

In his decades-long career as a pulpit rabbi, Lance Sussman has combined a skepticism about theological matters with unyielding commitments that may seem radical in the context of 21st-century Reform Judaism. Allan Arkush reviews a recently published collection of Sussman’s sermons:

He insists that human beings are spiritual creatures, and he berates “religion’s loudest critics today” for creating “a clay-pigeon model of religious life, which emphasizes its worst aspects and conveniently forgets other more compassionate and modest expressions of the spirit.” Religion, in the right, limited dose, can, he maintains, “actually be helpful in building community, inculcating kindness, helping people in pain, and helping us in our search for a modicum of happiness in this life.”

His sermons provide, over the years, a number of touching examples of what he means, enough to substantiate his claim that “a little bit of religion is a good thing whether or not you fully embrace the idea of God.” And it is hard not to be moved by his evocations of certain activities and familiar rituals.

Sussman loves America, . . . but he loves Israel too, and has since his adolescence. . . . With striking consistency, he defends the state ardently, if not always uncritically.

Read more on Jewish Review of Books: https://jewishreviewofbooks.com/american-jewry/15752/atah-manhig-a-life-in-reform-judaism/