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, N.Y., was fired Friday after multiple confrontations with the department over the length of his whiskers, he told the Daily News.
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.
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.