Rabbi Sues Army Over Beard Ban


WASHINGTON (JTA) — A rabbi is suing the U.S. Army, saying it refused his services as a chaplain because he would not shave his beard.

Rabbi Menachem Stern filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Washington on Wednesday, his law firm, Lewin and Lewin, said in a news release.

Stern says the Army rejected his application to serve as a chaplain only because he would not shave his beard as a matter of conscience.

Nathan Lewin, Stern’s lead counsel, noted that the Army has waived restrictions for Muslims and Sikhs, and that he had litigated the same issue in 1976 on behalf of another chaplain, Mitchell Geller — and won.

Lewin also said the ban violated constituional protections as well as law passed during the Clinton administration that protects some forms of religious expression in the workplace.

Stern’s case has been championed by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)