by R. Gil Student
My article in today’s Jewish World Review
In a classic episode of All In The Family, a television repairman tells Archie Bunker that he cannot finish the job because sundown on Friday was approaching. As a religious Jew, he had to observe the Sabbath. Archie offered to pay him extra to finish the job on Friday night, opining that turning down money is also against the Jewish religion.
Offensive stereotypes aside, neither Archie Bunker nor anyone else should have the right to tell someone how to observe his religion. Freedom of religion means freedom to practice my religion as I understand it. This country was built on the idealism and strong community spirit of religion. Yet, despite the great progress Jews and other minorities have made in the past decades, Orthodox Jews still face religious barriers.
Personally, I believe that Leviticus 19 forbids shaving beards with a razor but allows use of some electric shavers, which technically avoid this prohibition. Therefore, I feel religiously free to shave my beard and did so for many years. Other Orthodox Jews follow a stricter tradition, some never completely shaving off the beard and some never trimming it at all. Orthodox Jews who maintain their beards have recently suffered discrimination. In 2009, a medic in Pikesville, MD, sued for discrimination because he was forced to choose between his beard and his service as a medic. In the same year, a rabbi in Florida was rejected for service as an army chaplain because refused to shave his beard.
Continued here: link