NYPD fires Orthodox Jew for too-long beard

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

Former recruit Fishel Litzman of Monsey was fired Friday after multiple confrontations with the department over the length of his whiskers, he told the Daily News (http://nydn.us/LDIivf).

Litzman is Hasidic and believes that cutting his beard is forbidden by God.

NYPD rules usually require officers to be clean-shaven. The department makes exceptions for beards kept for religious purposes, but even then only allows 1 millimeter worth of growth.

“I don’t understand what the problem would be,” Litzman said.

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said the department’s rules are reasonable and Litzman was aware of them when he signed up.

Litzman was first cited in January for his unkempt beard. He was a month away from receiving his shield when he was fired.

“I always wanted to be a police officer,” said Litzman, a 38-year-old father of five who speaks Hebrew and Yiddish and was once a paramedic.

His attorney, Nathan Lewin, said the police department knew when Litzman applied that he would not trim his beard.

And now, Lewin said, it’s a case of religious discrimination.

“We’re going to be deliberating and considering what the steps are that we’re going to take,” Lewin told The Associated Press on Saturday night.

The department hired its first Hasidic officer in 2006 and the force now has at least two dozen Orthodox Jewish officers.

Like observant Muslim and Sikh officers, Hasidic officers are allowed to keep their beards for religious reasons but must keep them neat and trimmed.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer issued a statement Saturday saying he was “deeply troubled” by the firing.

“While the NYPD can exercise control over the personal appearance of its force in order to ensure that all officers are capable of performing their duties, they are also required to make a reasonable accommodation for religious beliefs,” Stringer said.

He urged the police commissioner to reconsider the case.

Information from: Daily News, http://www.nydailynews.com

More in Local News

Mukilteo crabber missing; his boat was found at Hat Island

Frank Urbick set out Thursday morning but did not return.

Police looking for leads in case of missing Snohomish man

Henry John Groeneveld, 63, was last seen on Monday, when he said something about going to “the river.”

Separate Everett fires send man to hospital, damage boat

The man was hospitalized for smoke inhalation from the early morning fire.

Police: He made an appointment, then tried to rob the bank

A lawyer is accused of donning a fake beard and telling a teller that a gunman was outside.

Drive-by shooting reported in Marysville neighborhood

Police said there was no evidence to indicate it was targeted at a specific person or property.

Celebrating the origins of Christmas

LDS church holds annual nativity festival featuring more than 600 sets.

Trooper’s car struck when he was arresting man for DUI

She drove away but was arrested for investigation of driving under the influence and hit-and-run.

Community boards are taking on school truancy

Support and follow-through, not punishment, seems to be more effective at keeping kids in school.

Inslee’s budget solves school funding with help from carbon

His budget would use reserves to boost education, then replenish them with a carbon tax or fee.

Most Read