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Michael Richards: Chosen by Choice

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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FUNNY, HE DOESN'T LOOK DRUISH Brother Michael The weirdest part of Michael Richards's racist rant could be the debate it's sparked over the former Seinfeld star's religion. In the aftermath of his N-word-laden onstage meltdown, both his defenders and critics claimed he was Jewish—the former to insulate him from charges of bigotry, the latter to make him look like a hypocrite. Their claims seeemed to be mistaken, however, in light of various articles identifying Richards as a Catholic-raised practitioner of Scottish Rite Freemasonry (less a religion than a quasi-spiritual frat for the elderly).

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But wait! On Thursday, as rumors popped up that Richards had waged a similar verbal attack on Jews, PR baron Howard Rubenstein entered the ring, telling AP, "He's Jewish. He's not anti-Semitic at all. He was role-playing, he was playing a part."

While that explanation hasn't sat well with the blogosphere, it is the truth, Rubenstein tells Radar. "Here's what he told me: He's not blood Jewish. He was born, basically, without a religion. But he had some very potent and important mentors in his life that were Jewish. He studied some of the other religions, but he believes now in the Jewish faith. He didn't convert, but he believes in Judaism."

And that bit about being a Mason? "He doesn't practice Masonry anymore," says Rubenstein. "His final conclusion is he feels that he is Jewish. That's what he'd like to be."

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