Yarmulke in American Law – Introduction

The practice of Jewish men covering their heads has been mentioned and considered in a number of cases in American courts. Some of the more common cases in which the wearing of religious headgear is at issue involve employment discrimination and incarcerated individuals. Rules governing military and athletic dress have also conflicted with the practice of wearing a yarmulke.

As we will see, the law applied in each situation depends on the nature of the case. Some examples of laws that are relevant to the wearing of religious headgear are: the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of religion and other characteristics), and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

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4 Comments

Filed under American Law, Yarmulke / Head Covering

4 responses to “Yarmulke in American Law – Introduction

  1. Irving Weinberg

    I recently heard about a rabbi who wishes to be a military chaplin but cannot because he wants to keep his beard. Is there any precedent for this that has been published or any halachic support for this that has been tested?

  2. Irving M. Kusnitz

    With respect to the comment concerning the military policy of personnel required to be clean shaven, i.e. no beards, the Jewish Week (Dec 31, 2010) has an Article (p. 9) “Don’t Ask, Dont Shave?” which discusses the Case of Menachem Stern. He has filed a lawsuit claiming that to be clean shaven is overly burdensome and violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as well as the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.
    Rabbi Marvin Bash, who served as a Chaplain in the Army & is Rabbi Emeritus at Congregation Etz Hayim in Arlington VA, claims that “there’s no Halacha that says you can’t trim the beard”

  3. Jacqueline

    I know that the halachic premise is different for Jewish married women covering their hair, but do the same laws apply? Are legal cases involving yarmulkes considered to give precedent for Jewish women as well?

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