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Geraldo Rivera and wife Erica at the University of Haifa benefit
Photo by Tim Boxer

Tim Boxer: Geraldo Rivera And His Jew Tattoo

By Tim Boxer, November 12, 2014




Fox News special correspondent Geraldo Rivera has a Star of David on his left fist. He got the tattoo in 1974 while reporting on the Palestinian terrorists who slaughtered 22 children in a nursery school at the Maalot kibbutz in the north.



He also took to wearing a golden pin in the shape of chai, 18 for life, on the lapel of his favorite velvet sport jacket.



You don’t readily associate Geraldo Rivera as a member of the tribe. So he felt compelled to announce what he is. “If they come again for the Jews,” he said, “I will clench my fist and say, here is a tough Jew.”




He was a poster boy for flamboyant Jewishness. “I am proud of my Jewishness and my Zionism,” he said.




Geraldo related his Jewish connection at a gala of the American Society of the University of Haifa on Oct. 28 at New York’s American Museum of Natural History.




Geraldo was born 71 years ago in Brooklyn. His mother, Lilian Friedman, came from an Orthodox Jewish family from Belarus; his father, Cruz Rivera, was one of 17 children from a Catholic family in Puerto Rico. They met in a midtown Manhattan restaurant where she worked as a waitress and he as a dish washer.




“The day they married,” Geraldo said, “my mom’s family sat shiva in Newark, New Jersey.”




Geraldo’s huge Puerto Rican Catholic family came to his bar mitzvah. As the ark was opened, the Catholics sensed the sanctity of the Torah. They took off their yarmulkes and placed them over their hearts.



When Geraldo married his fifth wife, Erica Michelle Levy, an NBC Universal producer, her family was not thrilled. Her brother Josh punched a hole in the wall with his fist. But her father Howard had the last word: “At least he’s Jewish.”




At the University of Haifa dinner Dr. Alfred I. Tauber, the university’s board chairman, presented the Carmel Award of Merit to philanthropist Audrey Gruss. She and her husband Martin endowed the Institute for the Study of Affective Neuroscience at the university, which integrates neuroscience (the biology of the brain) and affect (the mind and emotions). This in memory of her mother, Hope, who struggled with depression for decades.



The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Fund, represented by Sandor Frankel, also received recognition for its support of the university’s Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences.




Israeli Consul General Ido Aharoni recalled the time Geraldo invited him for his first television interview. Geraldo gave the ambassador the ultimate compliment: “You have the perfect face for radio.”





Tim Boxer was a columnist at the New York Post for two decades. He has been writing a column for The New York Jewish Week for 35 years, and has been editor of for 16 years. He is the author of Jewish Celebrity Hall of Fame, interviews of Hollywood stars about their Jewish roots.


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