Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

Hasidic sailor does not have to shave his beard, federal judge rules

(JTA) — An Orthodox Jewish Navy sailor doesn’t have to shave his beard — at least until the end of the month — thanks to a federal judge.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Edmund Di Liscia, who is serving aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in Asia, petitioned the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after being ordered to lose the beard despite a 2018 exemption due to religious practices, Stars and Stripes reported.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly stayed the order at least until April 29, by which time a decision could be made on the petition filed on behalf of Di Liscia, who is Hasidic, by attorney Eric Baxter of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Beards may interfere with a gas mask’s seal, leading to frequent opposition by the armed forces to allow conscripts to wear them. But waivers are given on religious grounds and may be revoked only during an emergency, according to Stars and Stripes. Di Liscia says he has passed safety inspections while wearing his gas mask with a beard.

The Navy says the waiver granted to Di Liscia has been reversed, but the sailor is disputing the claim.

Di Liscia had felt pressed to shave before during his service and regrets it, he wrote in a court declaration.

“Out of fear, I shaved,” Di Liscia wrote. “I regretted that decision and about five months later, I sought and received a no-shave chit,” meaning waiver.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.