Often mentorship is thought of as a relationship that can help younger workers get to the next step of the corporate hierarchy. But many people work in settings that are not at all corporate. How is mentorship different for these careers? What kinds of coaching and support do people need when their work focuses matters of spirituality and faith?
For The Atlantic’s series about mentorship, “On The Shoulders of Giants,” I talked to Rabbi Scott Perlo and Rabbi Shira Stutman about their work together at Sixth & I, a historic synagogue in the heart of Washington, D.C., where Stutman serves as Perlo’s mentor. The two have worked with each other to engage more deeply with thousands of years of Jewish tradition, and spoke about how their relationship has helped each sharpen their understanding of what it means to be a rabbi in 2017.
The conversation that follows has been edited for length and clarity.
B.R.J. O’Donnell: Tell me about when you first met Rabbi Shira Stutman.
Scott Perlo: We met over video first. I was overdressed for the interview. Shira almost didn’t hire me because I was wearing a suit and tie.
Shira Stutman: Right, you were overdressed, and we were worried because Sixth & I is a very informal place. We try to do things a little bit differently here. We have our own special sauce. To bring someone in at such a senior level, rather than having them from the start, was different for us. And so from day one, I think we have had a relationship that is ... what’s a more positive word than contentious?