Rabbi Forester’s Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) begins May 29, 2019.
Additionally, here is her Centerite column from early May:
Among the many blessings of living Jewishly, the marking of moments in time ranks among the most significant. Liberation brings responsibility for constructing a calendar that reflects the cultural narratives, moral values, and range of dispositions that create a fully lived Jewish year.
As this Centerite reaches you, the Jewish world is engaged in our annual ritual of “S’firat ha’Omer,” counting up the nights from Pesach to Shavuot. Collectively and individually, we prepare our hearts to absorb the gift of liberation and receive Torah anew. The seven weeks of counting offer daily opportunities to contemplate our relationship with Torah.
Torah means instruction and shares a Hebrew root with the words for parent and teacher. Torah encompasses all fields of knowledge--The Pentateuch, of course; a voluminous library of rabbinic and scholarly work; and broader teachings on how we can relate to each other in wise and compassionate ways.
My rabbinic training focused on Torah accessed through books, spiritual work, and dialogue with great teachers. My experience as a Jewish educational leader and teacher, and guest officiating at life-cycle events and services provided most of my practical preparation. On the pastoral side, I came to Madison with strong instincts, wisdom, and maturity derived from living through life’s ups and downs. My understanding of people, life passages, and the helpful role religion can play have served me well over these past 10 months. Indeed, I have found my pastoral work to be one of the most meaningful and fulfilling aspects of being your Rabbi.
However, I did not learn the Torah of pastoral care through formal training. In recent years, rabbinical schools have recognized the importance of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in training rabbis to help people through life’s most trying and sometimes excruciating moments. CPE-trained rabbis have honed their skills so that they can hold people’s pain and suffering with presence, fortitude, and resilience, empowering them to show up to every interaction refreshed and mindful in each new moment. I was invited to become your Rabbi before having taken a CPE course, with the understanding that I would complete the course during the coming summer months. Your elected leadership and I believe that CPE is important Torah to learn. It will give me the opportunity to expand my repertoire of methodologies and build myself internally so that I can serve as a source of strength to you in the years ahead.
CPE is a full-time internship accredited through the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (see acpe.org). From the last week in May through the end of August, I will not have regular hours at Beth Israel Center. I will be close by--at UnityPoint Health Meriter Hospital. I look forward to seeing you at services over the summer, although I will not be on duty. My email availability will also be very limited. I will, however, care for you at life cycle events and in times of crisis. As always, please contact me immediately by phone or email in those circumstances.
As they have before, our Ritual Committee will coordinate services, and our staff will continue to make sure that the synagogue runs smoothly.
I will miss seeing all of you as often as usual, and I am already looking forward to my return in late August.
Our sages teach, “The more Torah, the more life; the more study, the more wisdom; the more advice, the more understanding; the more charity, the more peace” (Avot 2:8). That is my hope and my prayer for all of us.