An Orthodox Jew sailing on the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier will not have to shave his beard, at least for now.
On Thursday, a US federal judge issued a temporary stay on Naval orders that Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Edmund De Liscia had to shave his beard.
De Liscia had not shaved in more than two years, when he was last forced to do so during boot camp. Since 2018, he was given a “no-shave chit” that made is permissible for him to wear his beard while in uniform.
Stars and Stripes military newspaper described De Liscia as a Hasidic Jew. Military.com said that De Liscia was a “devout Hasidic Jew even before he joined the Navy.”
The complain was filed in US District Court in Washington DC on Thursday. It stated that Di Liscia was ordered by his superiors to shave by Friday morning and then regularly thereafter.
A lieutenant commander on the USS Theodore Roosevelt told him in writing that he could face punishment for violating a direct order by not shaving.
“This action is extremely humiliating and deeply jarring to my psyche and soul,” Di Liscia said in the court statement, according to Stars and Stripes. He said he was saddened that the Navy wouldn’t accommodate his religious observance.
The court document went on to say that Di Liscia is sincere in complying with his religious beliefs, including not shaving his beard. However, he is faced with violation of a direction order if he doesn’t shave which could lead to “substantial punishment” from the Navy.
“Within this form of Orthodox Judaism, it is a religious requirement and an expression of obedience and fidelity to God for men not to cut the side and edges of their hair," the court document said. "The growth of facial hair also promotes physical and spiritual modesty and is a sign of spiritual maturity in his faith community."
At a hearing on Thursday, a federal judge issued the temporary stay in order to give himself and the Department of Defense team time to investigate the circumstances around De Lischia’s situation.
De Lischia’s “no-shave chit” was originally overturned when he requested to have a permanent accommodation last year so he could keep his beard.
The court was told that Di Lischia “has successfully passed routine gas-mask-seal-integrity tests while wearing his beard.”