Yarmulkes, Beards & Tichels in American Law

Some of the comments on the post “Yarmulke in American Law – Introduction” noted that there are other aspects of customary Jewish dress that might be treated the same as the yarmulke in American law. For instance, due to the prohibition against men shaving their faces with a razor, many Jewish men grow their beards. Some keep them trim, while others grow them long. (I hope to dedicate a future post to a discussion of beards in halacha.) Not surprisingly, this religious practice does not sit well with numerous employers, not to mention the United States Armed Forces. As noted in the forementioned comments, a NY rabbi, applying to be a chaplain in the U.S. Army, recently sued the Army for not allowing him to keep his full beard. (Click here for the story.) This is nothing new. A few years ago, in a similar situation, a rabbi was granted an exemption to the no-beard policy. (Click here for that story.)

Similarly, Halacha requires that married Jewish women cover their hair. Besides for wigs (known as a “sheitel” in Jewish circles), many women cover their hair with a tichel, a type of headscarf. While many employers likely do not mind–or even notice–a woman wearing a wig, a tichel is hard to miss, and might conflict with the employers policy governing employee appearance.

I will try to address these other aspects of traditional Jewish attire in my discussion of the yarmulke in American law. If you have any more issues that you would like me to discuss, please let me know!



Filed under American Law, Halacha / Jewish Law, Yarmulke / Head Covering

3 responses to “Yarmulkes, Beards & Tichels in American Law

  1. Jacqueline

    What about skirts? Aren’t there some jobs that require a specific uniform, like bus drivers, mail deliverywomen, etc.? Has this ever come up in court?

  2. Jacqueline

    Interesting… that was in 2007. So what happened? How was the case resolved? (I can be patient if you intend to address this at a later point.)

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