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Is beard length a police department requirement or religious persecution?

An Orthodox Jew who was weeks away from becoming a New York City police officer says he has been kicked out of the police academy for refusing to trim his beard.

Former recruit Fishel Litzman of Monsey said he was fired on Friday after multiple confrontations with the department over the length of his beard.

“As an Orthodox Chasidic Jew it is absolutely forbidden in my religious beliefs to cut or trim my beard in any way.

“I am being disciplined only because I maintain my religious beliefs and observances.”

According to the NYPD, Litzman had been notified about the beard on two other occasions. Although he rocked the police tests with scores of 99, 100 and 96, he also got written up for minor mistakes like being in the locker room too early and forgetting his gym gear.

Isaac Abraham, an activist in Brooklyn’s Hasidic communities, said it was a shame that allowances couldn’t be made for Litzman’s beard. The NYPD’s chief spokesman insisted they made every attempt to accommodate Litzman.

Litzman’s lawyer, Nathan Lewin, is convinced it is religious discrimination:

“They knew from when he took the exam and applied that he would not trim his beard. He said from the outset it was a matter of religious observance. He never made a secret of it.”

And the truth shall set you free… unless it is banned by religion.

NY Hassidic paper ‘deletes’ Clinton from iconic photo 

NEW YORK – The photograph showing President Barack Obama and staffers in the White House Situation Room carefully watching the raid in progress by US forces in Pakistan on the bin Laden compound last Sunday has been published far and wide.

One Hassidic paper in Brooklyn, however, has chosen to alter the photo – excising Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and another female staffer from the picture.

First reported in the blog failedmessiah.typepad.com, the photoshopped picture was published in the Yiddish newspaper Der Zeitung (The Time) on Friday, with empty spaces where Clinton had been sitting and where the female staffer had stood.

– from The Jerusalem Post

If you used this picture, as we did here at Under The LobsterScope, you would have had to follow these rules…after all this is copyrighted material that the White House is allowing distribution of:

“This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, e-mails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.”

Der Zeitung’s Photoshopped reproduction removes Hillary Clinton and one other female staffer from the mix. Reason? Der Zeitung had no comment as to why it altered the picture, but the likelihood of women and men in the same working environment… a concern that it exemplified immodesty or showed strong feelings that women should not be in positions of power… violated an extreme religious position.

Whatever the reason, it is a violation of truth on the part of the Hassidim… odd because conservative Muslims have similar restrictions on women. And for that matter, as my wife pointed out, conservative Christians have restrictions on women, mostly body related, as well.

Some day it would be nice to get past all this stuff.