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August 23, 1985 - Image 45

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-08-23

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had received a complaint about Goldman's
yarmulke from the court-martial prosecu-
"I feel the prosecutor simply did this as
a personal retaliation," says Goldman,
who points out that he testified at a simi-
lar hearing a year earlier, before the same
prosecutor. No harsh words were exchanged
during the first encounter and there were
no complaints about Goldman's yarmulke.
In any event, the hospital commander,
Col. Joseph Gregory, told Goldman that
the yarmulke, which he had worn for two
years as a Navy chaplain and three-and-a-
half years as an Air Force psychologist
without incident or complaint, was in vio-
lation of Air Force Regulation. Specifical-
ly, of Regulation 35-10, subsection 1-6(h)
(2)(f) which requires that "headgear will
not be worn...while indoors except by
armed security personnel in the perfor-
mance of their duties."
Col. Gregory told Goldman that while he
could not overlook the formal complaint,
he would allow Goldman to continue wear-
ing the yarmulke in the hospital, but no-
where else on base.
Goldman, though, felt compelled to ad-
here to a higher authority. As an Orthodox
Jew, he follows traditional law and custom
which directs that the pious should keep
their heads covered, not going "more than
four paces" with the head uncovered out
of modesty and "reverence for the Holy
Goldman protested that the compromise
would force him to violate his religious
beliefs, but the commander was intransi
gent. Finally, Col. Gregory withdrew the
compromise offer, issued a formal repri-
mand, and cancelled a recommendation
that Goldman, who had a flawless record
in the Air Force, be permitted to extend
his active service. Goldman was also
threatened with additional sanctions, in-
eluding court-martial.
He sued the Air Force on the ground
that it was depriving him of his First
Amendment religious rights, and he won.
Judge Aubrey Robinson, in U.S. District
Court in Washington, granted Goldman's
request for a permanent injunction against
the Air Force's enforcement of its yar-
mulke prohibition. Goldman was honor-
ably discharged in September, 1981, and
now works in private practice.



But the story doesn't end there.
The Pentagon fought back. (A deputy at
the Pentagon expressed surprise at the
military's tenacity in pursuing the cm,
noting that "the consomme seems to be
that we would rather lose funding for the
MX than have to accept yarmulkes.")
the owing of 1983 , a three-judge panel of
the! A.! Chu* Court of A.p& In Wash-
lagton leeve rsedthelowercourtru1Wg. The
court expressed some doubt over
entagon's claim that by wearing a
yarmulke on duty a military man would
Impair discipline or morale, but it held that


such military decisions "are entitled to
deference from civilian authorities."
The three judges ruled unanimously
that "the free exercise (of religion) clause
of the First Amendment guarantees both
the freedom to believe and the freedom to
act, but only the former is absolute."
Nathan Lewin and David Butler, Wash-
ington attorneys who have argued many
cases on behalf of Orthodox Jewish rights,
petitioned the Supreme Court on Gold-
man's behalf to review the case. They con-
tend that the -Air Force's pkohibition
against .Goldman was an "unreasoned"

Simcha Goldman wearing his yar-
mulke: "I was acutely aware that it
was me vs. the Air Force and I was
disobeying an order."

'and "blatant deprivation of his most basic
right" of religious freedom.
"The Air Force is wholly circular," Lew-
in maintains. "The reason why Captain
Goldman can't wear this is because the Air
Force says he can't wear it."
Lewin feels the case, which will be heard
this fall (the Court resumes October 7),
could result in a landmark ruling because
the Court never has directly ruled on to
what extent, if any, the First Amend-
ment's guarantee of religious freedom may
be restricted by the military.
Simcha Goldman, now 39, says that

because he believed in it. Looking back, he
calls the episode "a series of misunder-
standings that show the inability of the
military system to manage minority prac-
tices in a fair way." On a personal level,
he called the experience "useful" and says
he has grown from it, by "overcoming the
He now works as a clinical psychologist
at a Lubavitch-sponsored drug rehabilita-
tion program in Los Angeles. And he
wears a yarmulke at work.
of course Goldman is not unique in
wearing a yarmulke while on the job.
Dov Loketch, national sales manager at
World Wide Equipment Co. in Livonia,
has worn the traditional head covering
to work since his first day on the job." I
really find that I get, more respect as a
, person by practicing the principles that I
beliefe in," Loketch says. *
Herman Halon, a salesman at Factory
Steel and Metal Supply, is another De-
troiter who chooses to keep his head
covered while at work, although he opts
for a hat rather than a yarmulke. Halon
notes a large number of employees• at
the Jewish-owned supply firm are reli-
giously observant and he says he had
never had an adverse reaction from a
. Wearjng a yarmulke at work is far more .
comMonplace in a city like New York,
where the chairman of the prestigious in-
vestment banking firm of Sanford Z. Bern-
stein Inc. has worn a yarmulke for almost
two years.. Bernstein, 59, became Ortho-
dox several years ago, and while he did not
change the name of his company, he had
his own name legally changed last year to
his Hebrew name, Zahnan Chaim Bern-
stein. Wearing a yarmulke, he says, was
a matter of personal religious conviction.
"I wear it all of the time and I've gotten
no reaction to it," he says.
Ron Katz, a 23-year-old trader and one
of 75 employees in Bernstein's firm, says
he feels perfectly comfortable wearing a
yarmulke at work and he's had no prob-
lems. "But I have friends in cities like
Cleveland where they say it's not as well
accepted there.
"I think it's primarily a matter of your
personality and self-confidence, though,"
he adds,
Katz also said that some Orthodox gra-

duate students in business administration
are advised not to wear their yarmulkes on
job interviews with prestigious firms if
they want the best chance of being hired.
One Orthodox ambulance employee in
New York almost lost his job because of
his heroics. The employee was photo-
graphed In a New York daily newspaper
while sucreisfWly reviving a woman who
was near *OW The dramatit photo
showed 1g
g;g iscaudke rather
OAP his issalso6 mom est. But disci•
pilaw solissma dkolleataids new re.

-aside from having his name recognized in
places as far away as Paris, he is no longer
affected in his daily life by the case. There
were some rocky times, though, when he
was still in the Mr Force and he felt his
every action was being scrutinized by his
superiors. "I certainly made sure my shoes
were polished, " is the way be puts it.
"There were times I figured 'the hell with
it,' There was a groat deal of prepare on
me and I was acutely aware that it was me
vs, the Mr Force and I was disobeys ggan
order," But be says be pursued ttbbss case



Friday, August 23, 1985 45

Continued on Page 517




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