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Kingdom of Priests

Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the team of Orthodox Jewish high school students who are suing to compete in a national mock trial competition. The team from the Maimonides School in Brookline, Mass., won their state championship and thus the privilege of competing in the national contest in Atlanta this weekend. Alas, the finals are on the Sabbath, so being Orthodox Jews, they cannot participate. Or anyway they couldn’t do things like take notes or use a microphone.

If they’d left it there, I would indeed sympathize. But what part of living in galut, exile, an existential condition pervading Jewish life as our own religion teaches, do they not teach at the Maimonides School? Exile implies at least a bit of discomfort, not having everything your way. It’s one thing to lobby the national organization that sponsors the competition, as they rightly did. Quite another to go to the courts.

I see they have retained the legal services of Washington, D.C., lawyer Nathan Lewin, himself an Orthodox Jew who represented the so-called “Yale Five.” Those were a group of students who sued Yale University for the right to live off campus rather than have to live in a co-ed dorm. I would have sympathized more with them, too, if they had lobbied forcefully on campus and left it at that.
I was a high school debater. I know this must be a let down. Am I heartless? In their position, would you sue?

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