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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Pentagon's loosened restrictions still violating religious apparel statute

By Alina Dain Sharon


In March 2008, the Georgia State Defense Force approved its first waiver for a beard when Rabbi Zalman Lipskier, pictured here, was commissioned as a chaplain




JewishWorldReview.com | The Pentagon has issued a directive that loosens restrictions for U.S. troops who wish to wear religious garments such as head scarves, turbans, and yarmulkes with their military uniforms, or to grow beards. But while the U.S. Department of Defense's new policy should in some cases benefit Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and members of other faiths, men and women in the military must still seek special approval from their commanders to be allowed to wear religious garments, and such requests can still be denied.

"The new policy states that military departments will accommodate religious requests of service members unless a request would have an adverse effect on military readiness, mission accomplishment, unit cohesion and good order and discipline," Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nathan J. Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

"All requests for accommodation of religious practices will be assessed on a case-by-case basis… Each request must be considered based on its unique facts, the nature of the requested religious accommodation, the effect of approval or denial on the service member's exercise of religion, and the effect of approval or denial on mission accomplishment, including unit cohesion," Christensen said.

Prominent constitutional law attorney Nathan Lewin told JNS.org in an email that despite the loosening of the restrictions, the requirement for soldiers to seek permission from their military departments for religious clothing and beards, or the existence of "any requirement of prior approval," violates religious apparel statute 10 USC 774. Passed by Congress in 1996, the statute allows members of the armed forces to "wear an item of religious apparel while wearing the uniform of the member's armed force."

According to Col. (ret.) Rabbi Sanford Dresin, director of military programs for the Aleph Institute and Aleph's ecclesiastical endorser to the Department of Defense, the loosening of these restrictions is a "terrific thing," but it remains to be seen how the changes will be implemented.

The Aleph Institute is one of three endorsing agencies for Jewish chaplains in the U.S. military. The Department of Defense "provides instructions, but the details are left to the individual departments," such as the Navy or the Marines, Dresin told JNS.org.

Dresin explained that these military departments "have a certain degree of autonomy," and that he hopes they "will not set any obstacles" for individuals who apply for permission to wear religious garments.


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The Department of Defense decision conjures echoes of the case of Rabbi Menachem Stern, who was sworn in as a U.S. army chaplain in December 2011 following the resolution of his lawsuit against the army. The army had refused to budge for Stern on its "no-beard" policy for several years, but finally decided it wasn't "going to take a chance with a lawsuit because they didn't know what the judge could do," Lewin—who represented Stern pro bono—said at the time. U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and former Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) had all advocated for Stern's cause.

Lewin won a similar case for Rabbi Michell Geller in 1976. But in the 1986 U.S. Supreme Court case Goldman v. Weinberger, an Orthodox rabbi represented by Lewin was told by the U.S. Air Force he could not wear a yarmulke indoors while he was in uniform and on duty at his base. The rabbi argued that this policy violated his freedom of religion, which is protected under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court, however, upheld the military's policy in a 5-4 vote.

Justice William Rehnquist's majority opinion in that case stated the military is a "specialized society separate from civilian society," and that to "accomplish its mission the military must foster instinctive obedience, unity, commitment, and esprit de corps." One of the ways the military achieves this is through requiring its members to wear uniform clothing.

Then came the passage of 10 USC 774 in 1996. Under that statute, Lewin said, the Department of Defense "is not authorized to institute a system under which prior approval has to be obtained to wear an item of religious apparel," although the military can later prohibit a soldier if it deems that the religious clothing item or facial hair interferes with "the performance of the member's military duties," or if the item is determined to be "not neat or conservative."

"If approval is denied, the applicant can go up the ladder within the military service to seek approval. If he or she goes directly to court, the service may claim that he or she has to exhaust internal military remedies, but I think there is a good argument if the applicant is denied the right to wear religious clothing (or a beard) while the process is ongoing that this is an infringement of a freedom-of-religion right that warrants immediate relief in a court," said Lewin.

Jews in Green, an independent organization representing Jews serving across the Department of Defense that is not affiliated with the Department of Defense itself, applauded the new Pentagon policy.

"The new policy doesn't make any drastic changes, nor does it allow any items previously prohibited. However, it does clarify the process for granting religious accommodation, and potentially opens the door for observant Jews to serve and observe mitzvot with greater ease," Jason Rubin, a spokesman for Jews in Green, told JNS.org.

Rubin added that the policy also includes loosened regulations on religious observances such as Shabbat and dietary considerations.

"Perhaps the most important thing about the update is that it shows the DoD's recognition that religious observance is something that is important to our service members, and by making reasonable accommodations we can be a stronger and more effective force because of it," he said.

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