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.
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.
"They didn't give me anything," Litzman said, explaining to the paper that the police department did not offer an explicit reason for his firing. "I don't understand what the problem would be."
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.
The Daily News reported that the NYPD hired its first Hasidic police officer in 2006. Today there are at least two dozen Orthodox-Jewish police officers working for the NYPD, the Daily News said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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