A team from The Weber School participated in a virtual Moot Beit Din competition Sunday, May 24. Weber has been participating in the program for over a decade, according to Rabbi Ed Harwitz, head of school. “They all performed at an exceptionally high level,” he said of Weber’s students, who were coached for the competition by Weber teacher Rabbi Moshe Sokol.
The Moot Beit Din is comparable to moot court, but “as opposed to general legal content the focus is on Jewish law,” Harwitz said. “That was adapted quite creatively.” Case studies are brought to the students, and they research and prepare briefs and arguments. They are then evaluated by a group of experts that are organized by the program.
“Both college and high school Moot Beit Din programs feed Hadar’s mission of applying Torah meaningfully to the world around us,” Rabbi Avi Killip, vice president of strategy and programs for Hadar, which runs the program, said in an announcement. “They offer students the opportunity to engage deeply with our tradition through halakhic texts and beyond, mining them for wisdom that is relevant and learning the skills to incorporate our tradition’s texts into their lives today.”
Normally, students convene at various locations, but with the COVID-19 pandemic the competition had to be moved online. On Sunday, the students made their arguments and were evaluated. “All our students performed very well,” Harwitz said. “We’re very proud of them.” One of Weber’s teams won second place in the competition.
Harwitz said the program gives students a chance to learn in depth about Jewish law: “Rabbi Sokol worked to leverage this as a means for doing a deep dive into Jewish law, and into the minds of our rabbis and how they apply Torah concepts to issues that arise in general settings.” Figuring out how halachah and Jewish ethics apply to situations in the broader world is the real importance of the Moot Beit Din program and the work the students do, he said. “That’s consistent with our approach at Weber and the mindset and outlook we hope all our graduates will have.”