Hasidic Jew fired from New York Police Department over beard length

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 said.

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," said Litzman.

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.