Rabbi Lisa Grushcow is an Alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program, Class XII. She is the Rabbi at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in Manhattan.  Lisa can be reached at rabbigrushcow@crsnyc.org.

I lead a parenting group called “How to Raise a Mentsch.” (The irony: How often have I rushed my seven year old in the morning, yelling “Ariella! Hurry up! I have to teach the parenting class!”). We read parenting books and study Jewish texts; we talk through specific challenges, and we talk about our lives. It’s been a place where I can wear two hats: rabbi and parent.

When my second daughter, Alice, was born five weeks early, I had everything in place in terms of coverage – I am blessed with great colleagues. But the parenting group was on my mind; the teacher was set, but not the topic. Then, speaking to my partner, we decided: we would ask the class to write a blessing for Alice’s naming. 

Apparently it was the best session the class had ever had. At first they thought they couldn’t do it, but they realized how much they knew – and they were so moved to have been asked. They worked together to create a prayer, infused with texts and stories we had studied, and their own collective wisdom as parents. What a moment, to not only be taught by my students, but blessed by them.