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Michael Richards Defends Jewish Claims

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Nov 29, 2006 | 8:49am EST

Troubled comedian Michael Richards' publicist has defended his client's assertion he's Jewish, just days after it was revealed the former Seinfeld star shouted anti-Semitic remarks at comedy club audience members in April.

Richards sparked outrage again at a Los Angeles comedy club earlier this month after repeatedly calling two African-American hecklers "n**gers" during a foul-mouthed rant onstage.

He denies accusations of racism and anti-Semitism following the two incidents, insisting he's a Jew himself--despite failing to officially convert to the religion.

His new publicist Howard Rubenstein says, "He really thinks of himself as Jewish. He said there were two mentors who raised him and who had a big influence on his life, and they were Jewish. He said, 'I agree with the concepts and the religious beliefs of Judaism and I've adopted Judaism as my religion.'"

But Rabbi Marvin Hier questions the claims, maintaining, "You can't feel Jewish. It's not a matter of feeling. You can convert to Judaism. You can't not convert to Judaism and then be Jewish."

Rabbi Mark S. Diamond of the 280-member Board of Rabbis of Southern California agrees: "There are many people who appreciate Jewish customs, who may embrace aspects of Jewish culture and practice, but that does not make them Jewish."

Richards is currently seeking psychiatric help in an effort to control his rage problems.

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