Hasidic Jew dismissed from NYPD for refusing to cut beard

Members of the New York Police Department in New York City.</p>

Members of the New York Police Department in New York City.

A Hasidic Jew is planning to sue the New York Police Department for religious discrimination, CNN reported. Fishel Litzman, 38, began the police academy at the start of this year, and was in the top 1 percent of his classes, his lawyer said. But he was asked to leave Friday after repeatedly refusing to cut his beard. 

An NYPD spokesman confirmed that Litzman's beard had become an issue.  "He did not keep it trimmed to 1mm and he stated that it was his intention to never cut or trim his beard," the spokesman told CNN. 

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Litzman was just one month away from receiving his shield before he was dismissed, The New York Daily News reported. “I always wanted to be a police officer,” he told the paper. 

Hasidic Jews traditionally keep long beards for religious reasons, which contradict's the NYPD's request that officers keep a close shave. But the NYPD has made exceptions in the past. The department hired its first Hasidic Jew six years ago and now has at least two dozen Orthodox Jews on staff, the Associated Press reported. Muslim, Sikh, and Hasidic Jewish officers on the NYPD are allowed to keep their beards for religious purposes, but the beards must be kept "neat and trimmed," the AP said.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said he was “deeply troubled” by Litzman's firing, the AP reported.