Why “Beit Deena”?

Beit is the Hebrew word for house, so in one sense this blog is about my making a home in Israel. Beit is also commonly used before another word to indicate a certain type of location. For example, a “beit sefer” is literally a house of books, but really means school; a “beit knesset” literally is a house of gathering, but is used to mean synagogue; a “beit holim” is a house of sick people, what we know as a hospital.

Traditionally, a “beit din” is not just a “house of judgement” but the rabbinical court of Judaism. According to Wikipedia, “In ancient times, it was the building block of the legal system in the Biblical Land of Israel. Today, it is invested with the legal powers in a number of religious matters both in israel and in Jewish communities in the Diaspora, where its judgements hold varying degrees of authority in matters specifically related to Jewish religious life” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beth_din).

As someone who has always been obsessed with what’s fair, it seems appropriate that I was named Deena. That I have been working on refugee law issues only enforces the appropriateness of my name. By calling this blog “Beit Deena”, I also intentionally connote the idea of a beit din as a place that deliberates and expounds on complicated religious and moral issues. I definitely don’t have the answers, and I do NOT mean to imply that I think my opinions are worth as much as a beit din, nor anywhere near it. I simply invite you to read my little “judgements” about life here in Israel and add your own comments or thoughts!


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