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Mugshots and police uniforms for Orthodox Jewish women

by Brad A. Greenberg

July 9, 2008 | 12:56 pm

The Lower Hudson Journal News has been all over the Orthodox-women-and-crime beat recently. On Sunday, the paper ran two stories of note out of Ramapo, a largely Hasidic community.

The first was one of attainment for Belle Glauber, an Orthodox woman who just graduated from the police academy and has asked to not work Friday nights or Saturdays. This is an career choice for Glauber, and the The Telegraph blog points out some of the critical comments at Yeshiva World:

* How can an orthodox let alone an ultra-orthodox woman carry a gun? which I assume a police officer must do? Isn’t it an issur d’oraysa? (the poskim have given only very specfic heterim.
* I would think there were tznius issues here as well. A police person sometimes has to get physical. This doesn’t sound like something a really frum woman should be doing.
* How will she arrest a man? ask her husband to hold him? or she’ll only arrst females?
* A female police officer, by definition, cannot be Orthodox Jewish. She may claim to be Orthodox, like I can claim to be the Pope, but Orthodox it doesn’t make her.
* Did she get an exemption from wearing pants too? Or does tzinius (and other halachas) not apply when inconvenient?

The second story was about what happens on the opposite side of the police glass, where Sarah Cohen was required to remove her wig for an arrest mugshot. This is a no-no for the religiously observant—I assume getting arrested, but I’m actually referring to removing Cohen’s head-covering—and Cohen’s Hasidic community is up in arms over the action. Sure, it’s common for police departments to require for booking photos the removal of turbans, hats, sunglasses, toupees or anything else they might where on their head. But, for some reason, New Jersey has “no standard state rule.”

I think this is pretty open and shut: If you were arrested, chances are you did something wrong, and chances are it angered G-d, and chances are you have bigger problems than whether your head covered or uncovered. The easiest way to avoid this drama is to not get arrested.

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