My Experience With Moot Beit Din

By Sarah Horvath ‘21, Editor-in-chief

When asked to describe what Moot Beit Din is, I have to stop and think about it. To those not familiar with the term, I wonder, would it be adequate to cheaply summarize it as “Jewish Mock Trial”? Should I attempt to explain how it’s a combination of Debate, Mock Trial, and Talmud class? Should I get into the origins of the Beit Din and explain how it became a high school competition? Though more practical answers arise, my response to that question is: “What isn’t Moot Beit Din?” To me, Moot Beit Din is everything.

I have been on the Heschel High School Moot Beit Din team for three years, and I served as a captain this past year. Every season, I am impressed by how much the team has learned and grown. This year’s competition was held on May 24th, via Zoom. Unlike the traditional Moot Beit Din Shabbaton that provides ample opportunity for bonding with students from Jewish day schools across the world, the virtual competition focused participants on the most important part of the program: the application of sources. Students worked all year to master various Talmudic sources about a pre-assigned case, composed a written brief of the ruling, and filmed an oral presentation.  During the live competition, judges asked each team a series of questions based on their arguments. Judges probed for logical gaps, misinterpretation of sources, misapplication of sources, posing hypothetical situations, and consideration of the relevance of sources not discussed in the written decision. In addition to me, Heschel’s 2020 Moot Beit Din team was composed of Sophomore Hannah Berley, Junior Anna Dubey, Junior Sabrina Zbar, and coached by Limudei Qodesh Teacher Rabbi Mikey Stein. While given tough questions, the team answered flawlessly, earning their second-place trophy. 

Thank you, Moot Beit Din, for expanding my Talmudic understanding, once again.

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