Chabad Hasid Fired By NYPD For Refusing To Trim Beard
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Fishel Litzman was fired by the NYPD late last week after he refused to trim his short but scraggly beard for religious reasons, the Daily News reported.
“I always wanted to be a police officer. This was unfortunate. I’m a newly minted civilian.”
Litzman, who is 38 and married, lives in Monsey and has five children. He is a member of Chabad there.
Litzman was due to graduate the NYPD’s training school and become a full-fledged police officer when he was fired after ignoring repeated orders to trim his beard.
Described as a good recruit, Litzman reportedly passed his written tests with scores of 99, 100 and 96, the News reported.
Litzman is an ordained rabbi and a former Hatzolah paramedic. His beard is short – although not short enough to meet the NYPD's Jewish religious exemption policy on facial hair – and untrimmed.
The NYPD currently has at least two dozen Orthodox Jewish cops. The first known hasid was hired by the NYPD in 2006.
“The NYPD makes reasonable accommodations in this regard, permitting beards for religious purposes to be kept to 1 (millimeter) in length,” police spokesman Paul Browne told the News. “This was explained to the recruit in the Police Academy.”
In 2002 the NYPD was sued by a Sikh traffic agent cadet who was fired for refusing to cut his beard or remove his turban. He was later reinstated and the NYPD agreed to incorporate turbans into their official uniforms.
Orthodox Jewish officers are allowed to wear yarmulkes under their NYPD headgear and are not required to work scheduled shifts on Friday night and Saturday, the Sabbath.
Litzman is being represented by attorney Nathan Lewin, who has taken similar cases involving the US Military.
Facial hair makes gas masks and other protective facial gear difficult almost impossible fit and seal, and a source told the News that the NYPD’s no beard policy is based on that.
[Hat Tips: The Good Doctor R-F, Ruthie, WSC, Office of the Chief Rabbi, Rebbitzman, Burich, Tom, etc.]