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13th Biblical Trial: "The People v Korach: An Insurrection Against Moses"

Sunday, March 26, 2023 4 Nisan 5783

1:00 PM - 3:00 PMUniversity Synagogue

University Synagogue's 13th Biblical Trial: “The People v Korach: An Insurrection Against Moses”

Sunday, March 26, 2023, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at University Synagogue and via Live Stream

The afternoon will begin with University Synagogue member and UCI Professor Oren Izenberg summarizing the story and then the trial will unfold, with Hon. Martha K. Gooding, Judge for the Superior Court for Orange County, presiding.  UC Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and Loyola Law School Professor Laurie Levenson will argue the Biblical case of "The People v Korach: An Insurrection Against Moses.”  You in the audience, as members of the jury, will decide this civil court case. After submission of the “evidence,” join in a lively discussion, featuring Rabbi Arnold Rachlis, Dr. Jack Miles, Pulitzer prize-winning author and UC Irvine Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English and Religious Studies, and Rev. Dr. Sarah Halverson-Cano, Irvine United Congregational Church. Sponsored by Dr. Miriam Piven Cotler. 

MCLE Credit (2.0 general hours, CA) available for in-person attendees.

Tickets: Patron $100 (best reserved seats and program acknowledgement)

Reserved Seats $54

General Admission $36

Student $18

Live Stream $36 per household

Complimentary childcare will be available for children ages 2 and up from 12:00 - 4:00 p.m. (registration is required).  All attendees will be invited to stay for an Oneg-style reception, immediately following the Trial.



The defendant, Korach, is charged with fomenting sedition, insurrection, and conspiring with Dathan, Abiram, and 250 fellow members of the Israelite Assembly to overthrow the rightful and righteous leadership of Moses.  Having approached Moses in a violent manner, Korach, his co-conspirators, and their followers were heard to state openly before the entire community that Moses had deceived them into leaving the comforts of Egypt, only to have them die in the wilderness, and, worse, despite all this, he continued to lord himself over them!  They refused to follow him thereafter. This attempt to rile the mob, if permitted, would have torn the Israelite people asunder, as is duly recorded in the Torah, Numbers 16.

For his part, Korach has claimed these words represented the position of Dathan and Abiram, not him. Throwing them under the chariot, he declared that he was in no way responsible for their actions and that, in fact, his complaint was with Moses and Aaron for arrogating the priesthood to themselves, when, on the contrary, the entire Israelite community is holy, and therefore the people demand the priesthood be opened up to others, or at least to Levites, such as, why, Korach!

Did Korach take his scheming too far?  Was the insurrection the unforeseen result of his populist rhetoric or, rather, the deliberate means of an aspiring tyrant seeking to usurp Moses? Was Moses an authoritarian dead set on quashing freedom and rigging the priesthood, along with his lackey brother Aaron?

After several millennia, the defendant has finally exhausted every possible delaying tactic, the prosecution’s dilatory investigation is finally complete, and the trial has been removed from the original court of jurisdiction in the Sinai to a neutral venue in Irvine, CA.  The proceedings are almost at hand.

(***Update:  We are sorry to inform you that the star eyewitness for the defense, Mr. G. Santos, has been withdrawn after further investigation revealed that he was neither present in the Sinai on the specified date nor was he ever, as claimed, an Israelite.  In a statement, Santos explained that he meant he was “Israelite-ish” and that after medical school he had interned as chief of cardiology at Cedars-Sinai.)


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Fri, September 22 2023 7 Tishrei 5784