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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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Jewish teens argue for and against organ transplants

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Rabbis Haim Nataf, left, Schachar Orenstein and Michael Whitman pore over high school students’ legal briefs at the Moot Court of Jewish Law.

MONTREAL — A team from École Maimonide’s Jacob Safra campus was judged the best pleader in the fourth annual Moot Court of Jewish Law, organized by the Bronfman Jewish Education Centre (BJEC) and held at the McGill University law faculty.

Team members Liate Dayan, Audrey Ezri and Reine Amar argued a case on organ transplantation before the judges, Rabbi Haim Nataf of Communauté Sépharade Petah Tikvah, Rabbi Schachar Orenstein of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, and Rabbi Michael Whitman of Congregation Adath Israel.

The runner-up pleaders were from another all-girls team, this one from Bialik High School: Anna Weitzman, Stacey Elman, Kayla Eisenberg, Amy Garfinkle and Sarah Shtern.

The winners for best factum, or written argument, were Bialik students Miriam Simmons, Evan Eichenbaum, Corey Levine and Robert Laxer. The second-place finishers in this category were from Herzliah High School: Gabriel Benchetrit, Tomer Katzouni, Eyal Derhy, Evan Abramowicz and David Lasry.

All Grade 10 students at these schools, as well as Hebrew Academy, were involved in this year’s Moot Court, which is supported by Federation CJA’s Gen J and endowed by the Ruth and Alex Dworkin Family Foundation.

Using only Judaic texts, the students had to argue in support of or against the ethics of organ transplantation. This involved research using Jewish sources and developing a solution to a modern-day civil legal case.

The schools send the teams making the best cases to the finals, where they had to defend their positions before the rabbinical tribunal and a live audience gathered in McGill’s moot court.

“The beauty of this program is that it highlights the relevance of timeless Jewish values and teachings in debating the most complex current legal and moral questions,” said Karen Gazith, director of the BJEC’s formal education department.

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