Introducing Rabbi Betsy Forester
Rabbi Betsy Forester is a master teacher and religious leader skilled at helping people build meaningful lives through transformative Jewish experiences rich in authenticity, depth, empowerment, intellectual rigor, sacredness, and joy. Prior to serving as our congregational Rabbi, she was most recently the Director of Jewish Life and Learning at the Solomon Schechter Day School in Northbook, Ill. She has led religious and educational events across the age spectrum for many years, in day school, religious school, Camp Ramah, and community lecture settings. She is a source of guidance and inspiration, and mentors and guides adults and students through non-judgmental, attuned listening, thoughtful and empathic questioning, shared curiosity, and commitment to the full flourishing of all people. Rabbi Forester has lived all of her life as an active member of the Conservative Movement and was founding chair of The Ramah Day Camp.
Rabbi Forester holds a B.A. in Hebrew and Semitic Studies and Communication Disorders, and a certificate in Integrated Liberal Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; an M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology from Northwestern University; and an M.A. in Jewish Professional Studies from Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership. She was ordained as a rabbi in June 2018.
Rabbi Forester's path to ordination followed a traditional model of deep study and s'michah (certification) through a beit din (rabbinic court) upon completion of an intense course of study. She studied with distinguished rabbis and scholars who are leaders in the Jewish world and fully committed to her preparation for the rabbinate according to the highest standards of learning and professional competency. She has also studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America as part of her training. Additionally, Rabbi Forester has studied at Svara Yeshiva and Hadar and is a fellow at The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL). While Rabbi Forester's ordination is post-denominational, her approach to Torah and Jewish life accords with traditional, egalitarian, forward-thinking, Conservative Judaism.
She and her husband, Scott, have three children. Rena lives in Israel where she is a yoga instructor; Benjy recently completed a year of study at Hadar, was a Rosh Eidah at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin this summer, and is beginning Rabbinical School in the Fall of 2018 at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York; and Shira returns to UW-Madison and the BIC Talmud Torah faculty in September 2018, after another summer on staff at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin and a semester studying as a Nachshon fellow in Israel.