Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Orthodox Jewish School Expels 7th Grader Who Can't Grow Beard

An Orthodox Jewish School in West Florida has expelled a 12-year-old student for not adhering to part of the school's dress code dealing with grooming. Nathan O'Malley attends Hebrew Jr. High in Pensacola, Florida. According to reports, O'Malley was asked to leave school on Monday after numerous warnings that he had not conformed to the school's code on facial hair. According to the school's disciplinary handbook, all males twelve-years-old or older must grow out their facial hair, or at the very least, some stubble. According to school tradition, the facial hair code is based on Leviticus 19:27, which states, "Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard."

O'Malley insists that he's not purposely disobeying the code because he's tried to grow facial hair on several occassions.  But the best he's been able to muster so far is a couple of patchy red blotches that more resemble an old fox with the mange than a beard and moustache. On the few occasions he'd gone to school in such a state, he's been bullied so bad that he's chosen to shave what feeble stubble he can grow. Counselors insist that O'Malley, as a pre-teen with adolescent pre-pubescent hormones of Irish descent, will probably not be able to grow a full beard until he's at least 16-years-old. But administrators and school board officials at the strict Jewish school haven't the patience to wait that long.

"We've given him the entire month of Movember," the Principal Trevor Abraham told WABC News. "We told him we would settle temporarily for a moustache, but I've seen more facial hair on my Aunt Frieda who just finished her second round of chemo."

Nathan's parents, Jeremiah and Sarah O'Malley, who have recently converted to Judaism from Irish Catholicism, can understand the reasoning behind the rule and insist that it's not their intention to begrudge the school, let alone the word of Yahweh. But nor do they understand why they might have to home-school their son for two years simply because his genes impede his ability to grow a beard.

"He's a straight A student. He's never been in trouble before," says his mother. "Are his lips and pale cheeks that much of a distraction?"

Supporters of O'Malley imply that the school's policies are racist, while the school's supporters insist that the O'Malleys are playing the race card, and that there shouldn't be exemptions to rules based on ethnicity.
"The kid should have to wear a beard like all good Orthodox Jews," says Rabbi Omar Driscoll. "We Jews, as the Chosen Ones, are not allowed to shave or eat bacon. These are our sacrifices for eternal salvation. Sacrifice is not meant to be easy."

Other members of the Jewish faith agreed, especially about the temptations of bacon.

"God doesn't care if you look like a leprechaun," added Ally Steinberg, the School Board's lawyer.

The O'Malleys are appealing the school board's decision, and if they lose, they will consider transferring Nathan to a less restrictive Orthodox school.

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