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Murder the Messenger?

University Synagogue will hold its annual Biblical trial, “The People vs. the Sailors for Attempted Murder”

The Biblical trial of “The Book of Jonah: The People vs. the Sailors for Attempted Murder” will be held on Sunday, March 5, from 1 to 3:30 p.m., at University Synagogue, 3400 Michelson Drive, Irvine.

UC Irvine School of Law Founding Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, who is also a University Synagogue member, and The Honorable Laurie Levenson, professor of Law and director, Center for Ethical Advocacy, Loyola Law School, will argue the case before Associate Justice Richard Fybel, 4th District Court of Appeals, who is a past president of University Synagogue.

University Synagogue holds its popular biblical trial program each year. In this 10th Anniversary year, attention will turn on the question: Can you consent to your own murder?

The story of Jonah, the prophet who ended up in the belly of a great sea creature, is well known. What few remember of the story is how he got there. Fleeing from the divine command to prophesy the destruction of the city of Nineveh, Jonah boards a ship bound in another direction. When God calls up a storm to punish his disobedient messenger, the sailors aboard ship are faced with a terrible decision: risk death for the sins of a stranger or listen to Jonah, who insists that they save themselves by throwing him overboard.

After the lawyers argue the case and present their evidence, there will be a lively panel discussion of timeless and timely moral, ethical and philosophical themes. The panel will be led by Rabbi Arnold Rachlis, and will feature Dr. Jack Miles, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and UC Irvine professor of English and Religious Studies; and Dr. Julia Reinhard Lupton, associate dean for Research, School of Humanities, and professor, English and Comparative Literature, UC Irvine.

Open to the public, ticket prices start at $36 general admission; $18 student with current ID. This program has been approved for 2.50 hours of general MCLE credit by the State Bar of California. Jones Day is a State Bar of California MCLE approved provider.

For program information, call (949) 553-3535 or order tickets online at