Posts Tagged ‘beard’
The Israel Defense Forces has allegedly taken action to end its persecution of observant soldiers exempted from shaving facial hair for religious reasons.
The IDF announced Tuesday it would change its procedures following the imprisonment of Yaakov Biblau, a soldier from a Chabad-Lubavitch family who refused to shave his beard.
Biblau was serving as a computer and electronics engineer in the air force when he arrived at a new IAF base and was ordered by his commander to shave. Biblau explained that he had a permit to grow the beard, which he had worn since beginning his service and which the military rabbi knew of. His commander was unmoved and revoked the permit. He also prosecuted Biblau for refusing to obey a direct order.
The soldier argued in return that it was not reasonable to force him to remove the beard prior to clarification from higher authorities. He called the hotline of the IDF Chief Rabbinate, which informed him that he had a right not to shave. Regardless, the IAF commander placed Biblau on trial and convicted him of refusal to obey an order. He was sentenced to 10 days in prison.
That same commander has been known to harass other observant soldiers as well, according to Bayit Yehudi MK Moti Yogev, who contacted Chief IDF Rabbi Brig.-GEn. Rafi Peretz about the case. Yogev wrote in his letter that the relevant commander should be reprimanded for his “unwise conduct.” In response, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit replied that “the Air Force procedures have been changed following the incident.”
At present, any officer at lieutenant-general rank and above has the right to reject a soldier’s exemption from shaving, according to a report by the Hebrew-language Yediot Aharonot daily newspaper.
Up to this point, such officers also have had the right to place such soldiers on trial, without first checking to see whether the facial hair is legitimately worn.
From this point on, officers will be able to double-check the authorization of a shaving exemption and the legitimacy of a soldier’s contention he is keeping his beard for religious reasons.
However, no officer will have the right to force a soldier to shave; nor will the soldier be punished before a decision is made by authorized officials.
The government has authorized a change in the laws to expand the draft of hareidi religious Jews. But there are still many adjustments that must be made in order to enable both the secular and observant populations to work together seamlessly. Harassment of observant Jews by secular commanders is not a new phenomenon. The myriad problems involved have long been responsible for many hareidim choosing to avoid military service, rather than having to choose between proper observance of Torah law, or disobeying a frivolous order from an unfair commander.Hana Levi Julian
U.S. rapper Macklemore has posted an apology to his website after facing a firestorm over his appearance in a costume appearing to be a caricature of an eastern European Jew.
On stage the blonde, white rapper wore a black wig and beard, and a fake hooked nose last week at the EMP Museum in Seattle. The performance was a fund raiser to celebrate the opening of the new museum. Seattle is the hometown of Macklemore and his performing partner, Ryan Lewis.
Macklemore (aka Ben Haggerty) said in his statement that he donned the costume to perform incognito.
“There is no worse feeling than being misunderstood, especially when people are hurt or offended,” he wrote. “Earlier in the day I thought it would be fun to dress up in a disguise and go incognito to the event so that I could walk around unnoticed and surprise the crowd with a short performance,” he explained.
“I picked up a bunch of fake mustaches and beards and grabbed a leftover wig from our recent trip to Japan… The fake noses they sell at the costume store are usually big… I ended up with a big witch nose. I went with a black beard because that’s the furthest color from my natural hair. Disguise was the intention… Some people there thought I looked like Ringo, some Abe Lincoln… The character I dressed up as on Friday had no intended cultural identity or background. I wasn’t attempting to mimic any culture nor resemble one. A “Jewish stereotype” never crossed my mind.
“I respect all cultures and all people. I would never intentionally put down anybody for the fabric that makes them who they are. I love human beings, love originality and. . . happen to love a weird outfit from time to time…
“I acknowledge how the costume could, within a context of stereotyping, be ascribed to a Jewish caricature,” he added in the statement. “I am here to say that it was not, absolutely not my intention, and unfortunately at the time I did not foresee the costume to be viewed in such regard. I’m saddened that this story or any of my choices, would lead to any form of negativity.”
The performer added a link to the website of the New York City-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) at the end of the statement, noting, “Out of a negative can come a positive. Through this situation I’ve got hip to some incredible groups like the ADL and I encourage people to check the great work they, and others like them, do.”
Macklemore and & Ryan Lewis are Grammy Award winners and have performed on the stages of numerous award ceremonies.Jewish Press News Briefs
Bill de Blasio is not a Hasid, although he represented Borough Park in the city Council. Nevertheless, the NY Post took issue with the mayoral hopeful getting rid of his beard as soon as he was considered a serious candidate for mayor.
“As a Brooklyn councilman, de Blasio sported a beard when elected in 2001, taming it to a rakish mustache and goatee by the time he was public advocate in 2010. Just a year later, he made his smooth transition,” the Post noted.
“I didn’t leave my beard — my beard left me,” de Blasio told The Post, explaining that it was vanity, not politics, that led him to shave it off. “I started to notice flecks of gray . . . and I didn’t like the look,” de Blasio admitted, adding he “immediately felt younger after the shave.”
Experts said de Blasio’s close call makes sense, because conventional wisdom says facial hair doesn’t cut it in politics.
“In modern times, it makes the general public wince,” said political consultant George Arzt, who worked on de Blasio’s campaign for public advocate. Voters find facial hair “untrustworthy,” he added.
However, Arzt cautioned, “you can’t keep switching off from beard to mustache and goatee to nothing — then you don’t have a steady image of that person. That could work against him.”
Which raises the question: can a candidate with a beard become mayor of New York City? Maybe that’s why Joe Lhota, the Republican favorite, is considered a long shot. Joe Lhota — is the lone bearded candidate in the race. The last bearded mayor of New York City was William Gaynor, who served from 1910 to 1913. He was also the only mayor targeted by an assassin; he survived being shot in the throat in 1910, but died three years later.
“Having facial hair is not a determent,” Lhota declared to The Post. “I have no desire to shave it. That’s not going to happen. Plus, Republicans can get away with it more than Democrats, because they have this image of being self-made people.”
And Arzt confirmed to the post: “if anyone can pull it off, Lhota can, because the beard is part of his personality.”Jacob Kornbluh
Formerly Hasidic reggae star Matisyahu participated in a candid interview with CNN, discussing his departure from observant Jewish life and his connection to his religion.
Just following the release of his album “Spark Seeker”, and a year after he shaved off his beard and publicized it in a controversial Twitter post, Matisyahu said that even though he no longer lives according to Torah laws, he is still as Jewish as ever.
“Judaism is just such a huge part of who I am. I don’t think I could separate that at this point,” Matisyahu told CNN. “I spent 10 years sort of really immersed heavily in the practice and in the study of Judaism. ..it’s still such a part of me that it’s inescapable.”
Regarding his departure from Chassidism which began with his abandonment of the Chabad movement, Matisyahu said “I started out in the Chabad movement, and I started pretty closed up, with the idea of there being that “this is it.” I bought into that fully. I really explored in depth the Chabad ideology. Then I started to open up. … I started to explore other types of Hasidism. … Eventually I began to regain trust into my own intuition and my own sense of right and wrong. I began to realize that there were a lot of things within that lifestyle that were actually holding me back…. and keeping me from tasting a certain freedom of expression.”
When pressed, he said that he ultimately walked away from Orthodox Judaism because “When I’m talking about all the heaviness, I’m really talking about the rules. So at a certain point … I basically said, “I don’t need to do all these things. It’s my life, I can choose how I want to worship God, what words I want to say. I can say less words.” And once I let go of that, just sort of like a freedom that opened up that I began to taste, this freedom in my life that I had been missing.”
Matisyhau said that the professional implications of shaving his beard – a decision he came to over the course of years – did not concern him, as he believed in the power of his music, and said he did not believe he had garnered fans because of the beard. He did, however, say the beard helped “put me on the map and get me attention”.
Matisyahu said he tells his three children that “nobody knows the way” when it comes to religion, and that while teachers and others may represent Judaism as encompassing Torah laws, “you have to decide in your life what’s real for you”. While he infuses their lives with elements of Judaism which are “enriching and meaningful”, he does not remind the children to do things like wear a kippah or say blessings on food.Jewish Press Staff