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Joan Rivers' Religious Beliefs, Jewish Faith And Controversy

( [email protected] ) Sep 08, 2014 12:26 PM EDT
After comedian Joan Rivers died, there has been much discussion concerning her faith as well has Jewish identity. The 81-year-old had passed away at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City on Sept. 4, Thursday.

After comedian Joan Rivers died, there has been much discussion concerning her faith as well has Jewish identity. The 81-year-old passed away at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City on Sept. 4, Thursday.

"My son [Cooper] and I would like to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff of Mount Sinai Hospital for the amazing care they provided for my mother," River's 46-year-old daughter Melissa said in a public statement. "Cooper and I have found ourselves humbled by the outpouring of love, support, and prayers we have received from around the world. They have been heard and appreciated."

Rivers was born in Brooklyn to Russian Jewish immigrants, who fled during the Russian Revolution. According to information provided by Jewish Journal, Joan's father was an active participant of the Jewish community, and started the first synagogue in Larchmont, NY. Even though Joan grew up doing "everything a nice Jewish girl was supposed to do", she decided to pursue an acting career after divorcing her first husband in the 1950s.

Throughout her life, Rivers cracked jokes about her Jewish faith. However, her brand of humor was not always appreciated by members of her faith.

Last year, Rivers made a crude reference to the WWII-era Holocaust that claimed the lives of six million Jews. She was harshly panned by critics within her religious community, but remained unrepentant to the very end. Ironically, Joan was publically supportive of the modern nation of Israel.

"Nobody would raise a finger if Israel went under. Not a finger," Rivers said, according to the San Diego Jewish Journal. "If Israel had the earthquake instead of Haiti, I don't think Brad Pitt would have been standing out there screaming and crying with Angelina. You can tell me I'm wrong. Let's hope we never have to know."

Joan River's funeral will be held on Sunday, Sept. 7, at Temple Emanu in New York City. Whether the ceremony will be open to the public remains unconfirmed at this time.