UOJ Keywords - Religious Jew, Length of Beard, Sexual Abuse of a Minor, Holy Man, Archbishop, Child Endangerment, Sexual Abuse, Transferring of Predatory Priests, Conspiracy & Dementia:
Behold the Mighty Beard, a Badge of Piety and Religious Belonging
by Mark Oppenheimer - THE NEW YORK TIMES
Published: August 6, 2011
Go ahead, picture a religious Jew.
Now picture a Muslim cleric.
Now an Amish farmer.
What do they have in common? Beards. And not neatly trimmed beards, but, in the popular stereotype, long, unruly beards, which connote piety, spiritual intensity and a life so hard at study that there is no time for a shave. The scholar, the mystic, the terrorist, the holy man — they all have beards.
Last month, the connection between hirsuteness and religiosity appeared in federal court, not for the first time. In this latest case, a federal court refused to consider the appeal of a Jewish prisoner in New Hampshire who had bristled against regulations limiting his beard to a quarter-inch.
In upholding a 2010 summary judgment against the prisoner, Albert Kuperman, convicted in 2002 of sexually molesting a minor, the First Circuit panel did not disagree that Mr. Kuperman had a religious obligation to refrain from shaving. But it concluded, in a decision issued July 14, that “alternative means remained open for Kuperman to exercise the constitutionally protected right at issue.” The prison, in other words, had to allow Mr. Kuperman, who has since been released, some avenue for religious observance, but not every avenue.
Being bearded is just one of many obligations that some strictly religious Jewish men uphold. Only one of the Torah’s 613 commandments applies to facial hair, and scholars disagree on the commandment’s interpretation.
But the beard is integral to many men’s religious identities, not just religious Jews’. The beard, especially the really big beard, constitutes a look, one that dictates how they are perceived by the world.
“Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard,” according to Leviticus 19:27. That commandment has produced reams of rabbinic commentary. Some traditional Jews believe only the chin must remain unshaven. Others argue the unshaven area is larger, and some teachings hold that the prohibition against shaving extends to the neck. Rabbis draw distinctions between shaving (forbidden) and practices like cutting the hair with scissors, plucking it with tweezers and removing it with depilatories (depending on whom you ask, possibly permitted).
But to focus on the legalisms misses the point. In many religious communities, the beard is the man’s ID badge, his sign of membership. Like the Hasid’s black hat or the Muslim’s kufi, it’s what he acquires when he joins the community, and it’s what he gets rid of when he leaves. It is a form of religious garb, with different versions in different religious tribes......"
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Pennsylvania: Cardinal Is Summoned to Court
by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: August 6, 2011
A judge on Friday summoned the former Philadelphia archbishop to court on Sept. 12 to see if he should be deposed in a sexual abuse case. Prosecutors want to preserve the testimony of Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, 88, for next year’s trial because he has cancer and dementia. Monsignor William Lynn, 60, secretary for clergy under Cardinal Bevilacqua, is accused of transferring predatory priests to new parishes and is charged with child endangerment and conspiracy. Three priests and a former teacher are charged with rape.