Camp Shalom, a large Jewish summer camp, cares very much about environmental issues and has been thinking about how it sources its meat.
Concerns have been raised that its current supplier does not treat animals well. Should the camp continue as it has out of loyalty, or find a more ethical alternative?
The case of the fictional camp was put to Herzliah High School students in Montreal, at this year’s Moot Beit Din Competition. To reach a halakhically sound decision, they had to consider the prohibition of tzaar baalei chaim (cruelty to animals), as well as financial responsibilities relating to the fulfillment of mitzvot.
The students had to make their arguments based on Jewish law, in this mock trial before a panel of judges. The winning teams now proceed to the North American competition.
“Each year, our students impressively rise to the occasion, yet their ability to research in-depth and argue so passionately constantly amazes me,” said Monica Mendel Bensoussan, the school’s director of development.
Under the guidance of coach Shimon Aviel, teacher David Wallach and director of Judaic studies David Azerad, the students started preparing at the beginning of the school year by researching a variety of biblical sources.
Armed with that knowledge, they wrote compelling arguments that they presented to the judges, which included lawyers Susan Orenstein, Ron Toledano, Gregory Azancot and Elyssa Wortzman, as well as Rabbi Yechezkel Freundlich of Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem and Maharat Rachel Kohl Finegold of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim.
“Serving as a judge at the Moot Beit Din is truly one of my great joys,” said Rabbi Freundlich. “The students clearly dedicate a tremendous amount of time in preparing their factums and oral arguments and it is nothing short of remarkable to watch them shine. As a community rabbi, it is pure nachas to see students put together and present such cogent Talmudic arguments. The Jewish future is bright.”
Orenstein added that, “Year after year, I am amazed at the dedication, confidence and ability of the young men and women competitors. It becomes more and more difficult to choose the representative teams who will go on to compete in North Carolina, because the level both in written factums and oral is so high.”
Lev Kalin, Benjamin Wexler, Julia Langleben, Sarah Mashal, Benjamin Tordjman, Hailey Langleben, Shayana Shimansky and Carly Stroll will now go on to represent their school at the Prizmah International Moot Beth Din Competition in Greensboro, N.C., from April 4-7.