2024 Moot Beit Din Competition

Kehillah Jewish High School’s Moot Beit Din team has been competing in the Maimoinides’ Moot Court Competition, which is run by the Hadar Institute, against other Jewish school and non-school-based teams from around the world for the past six years. Students learn how to apply halacha, Jewish law, to contemporary issues, making thorough and convincing arguments for their positions based on close reading of texts and detailed analysis of their implications. Competitions are structured around a detailed case alongside a curated sourcebook of traditional and modern Jewish texts. Teams develop arguments using the provided source material as well as their additional research to address the questions presented in the case. They write a detailed written decision, prepare an oral decision, and respond to challenging questions from a panel of expert judges and their peer competitors. Cases in recent years have addressed timely issues including medical ethics, #MeToo, artificial intelligence, bullying, and digital privacy.

“Most text study I have done in my [Jewish] day school education has been focused primarily on a deeper understanding of the documents themselves without clear practical application or broad connections from Tanakh to Talmud through the Rishonim into modern halachic works. While I have read responsa which follows this process, doing it ourselves deepened my understanding of how halacha is constructed,” says Isaac Zucker, Kehillah 2025.



Congratulations to Isaac, Chava, Tsiporah, Zalman, Dov, Mayan, Veronica, and Charlotte!!!

There are two divisions: one in which students get a sourcebook and are not permitted to include any extra research, and one in which students may use the sourcebook as well as their own additional research. Our students have consistently opted for the more challenging option that affords them the opportunity to do their own research and deepen their Jewish text learning further.

“Our process included weekly lunchtime and out-of-school meetings, where we reviewed the suggested sources and outside references found by team members. We analyzed and debated each detail and carefully crafted the logical flow of our arguments to ensure that we addressed as many relevant halachic authorities as possible,” said Isaac Zucker.

Students who participate in Moot Beit Din benefit from the availability of Kehillah's Beit Midrash classes in which we study a wide range of classical Jewish texts in their original language, as well as their hard work and great intelligence. Moshe Goodman, a longstanding Kehillah Jewish Studies teacher, has been the advisor for our teams for the last six years.

Mayan Moses, Kehillah 2025, said the following about preparing for the competition, “I love preparing for the Moot Beit Din competition every year because not only do I get to learn Torah, but I get to spend time with friends while doing so. I am fascinated by the versatility of halacha and the ways in which it can be applied to modern-day issues. We invested much more time and energy into this year's arguments than we have in previous years...Moshe’s help in preparing and quizzing us for the question-and-answer round was invaluable.”

From 2019-2021, Kehillah enjoyed a three-year winning streak, taking home first place in their division each year. Last year, for the first time, we had a large enough team that we needed to split into two teams, competing in separate groups. One of our two teams brought home an honorable mention. This year, we once again fielded two teams, but instead of competing in separate rooms, we had to compete against each other in addition to the other schools! Our teams were well prepared with a convincing decision that was thoroughly thought out. As a result, we brought home 1st and 2nd place awards! Most importantly, our students’ understanding and love of classical Jewish texts have been once again profoundly developed through their hard work.


“The competition itself [which took place] on Sunday was nerve-wracking, but my friends' encouragement and support made me feel that I would be satisfied with our preparation and participation regardless of the outcome. We had the pleasure of being judged by three extremely kind and learned people, and the rounds of Kol Hakavods to other teams in between presentations (suggested by Ms. Elman) created a warm, accepting atmosphere—rather than one of rivalry—and the supportive energy in the room helped calm our nerves. I left the competition room feeling satisfied; I knew we had done our best. When we learned we had placed first and second in the same division, I could barely believe it. I was incredibly proud that all our hard work had paid off. As our names were called and we walked to the front of the room, our new friends cheered us on just as we had them. When it was time to leave for the airport, I was sad and found myself already looking forward to next year's Shabbaton,” says Mayan Moses.

This year's team was made up of juniors and sophomores, so we look forward to doing this again next year.

Shifra Elman, dean of the Jewish Studies Department, chaperoned the students to the competition. The event took place in Tarrytown, NY from April 4- 7 and included a Shabbaton with over 200 students from all over North America coming to celebrate their love of learning Torah and Judaism together.

The Shabbaton was a great way to meet new friends and grow closer to existing ones. I had never heard so many people singing together like that, and it was fantastic”, says Dov Morris, Kehillah 2025.

“The Shabbaton was an incredible experience in itself. Though initially, I entered the space nervous about the impending competition…my anxiety was soon washed away by meaningful spiritual experiences. One of the highlights of the trip was the hours spent singing Zmirot, Jewish songs, on Erev Shabbat with my team members and Ms. Elman in an unused conference room. Because my family doesn’t usually sing on Shabbat, and because I am not a Ramahnik (someone who attends Camp Ramah), most of the tunes were unfamiliar to me. Still, the meaning behind the words so heartfully chanted struck me to the core. The egalitarian minyan was truly unique: while I love my conservative shul, the experience of 50 plus high schoolers all davening together, shacharit mincha and maariv, was incomparable,” says Isaac Zucker, Kehillah 2025.

The entire experience, from preparation to presentation, is one that Kehillah Jewish High School is proud to support. Students have the opportunity to pursue their interests through their own initiative, with the backing of our dedicated faculty and the school community. The Maimonides Moot Court Competition, spearheaded by the Hadar Institute, exemplifies the diverse experiences available to students at Kehillah.