HBHA Takes Second Place in Moot Beit Din Division C


Photo by Moriah Abrams.

Hannah Pinson

Photo by Moriah Abrams.
Photo by Moriah Abrams. Moot Beit Din participants this year were Hannah Pinson (back left), Lainie Kaseff, Lindsey Paul, Leah Sosland. Jacob Katz (front left), Ezra Smith, and Ariel Brudoley.

On Mar. 30, 2014 teams from twenty different Jewish day schools throughout the continent gathered in Kansas City to compete in the annual Moot Beit Din competition. This is sponsored by RAVSAK, a network for Jewish community day schools around the country. Six teams took trophies home on Sunday afternoon. In Group A, The Weber School from Atlanta (GA) took first place with TanenbaumCHAT Kimel (TO) following closely behind in second place. In Group B, American Hebrew Academy took a first place trophy back to North Carolina. Ottawa Jewish Community School traveled back to Ottawa (CAN) with the second place trophy. In Group C, Milken Community School from Los Angeles placed first with Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy as a runner-up.

The Moot Beit Din competition makes the students into a simulated court system. They are given a case in late Oct. or early Nov. This case comes from a variety of halachic problems, however it is updated to be more modern and somewhat relatable. The students then are to provide an answer to the prosecutor based on their division. The first group has no sources given to them; they must find sources all on their own using their own resources. The second group is given a few sources and expected to provide more sources with deep text analysis. The third group is given a source packet and expected to work solely from it.

The “beit dins” worked for a majority of the school year to prepare a written brief and oral presentation based on a case that had been assigned to them. A fictional camp director named Lindsey Cohen proposed this year’s case. She asked if she was allowed to purchase industrially raised meat because it may cause an excessive amount of pain to animals.

In addition to the competition, the team members enjoyed a regular Shabbaton. All teams arrived on Thursday afternoon to be greeted by Hyman Brand’s team and enjoy some icebreaker games. They then proceeded to daven, eat dinner, hear from a guest speaker, and play some trivia games. The next day, all participants traveled to Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy. They were able to witness the long-standing tradition of Taste of Shabbat and enjoy breakfast with the students. Then, Head of Jewish Studies at HBHA Avi Weinstein taught a lesson about women wearing tefillin. Following, students enjoyed a period of free time. After lunch, the bus took the group to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, followed by the Country Club Plaza.

Upon arriving back at the hotel, the kids experienced a traditional Shabbat service and song session. Shabbat consisted of prayer, free time, discussion, and singing. After Shabbat concluded, all teams had three hours to prepare for the presentation on the following day. After breakfast on Sunday, all teams proceeded to present their arguments to the judges.

Michal Cahlon, the advisor to the Hyman Brand team, enjoyed the experience. “I am very pleased with the way our students welcomed the rest of the teams to Kansas City and served as ambassadors for our school and our community,” said Cahlon. “I am inspired each year by the Moot Beit Din experience, seeing young people engaged seriously in the study of traditional and modern Jewish texts, grappling with modern dilemmas and actively seeking halakhic solutions.”

Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy was delighted to host and participate in the competition this year. We cannot wait to see where we will be competing next year!