Fox News special correspondent Geraldo Rivera has a Star of David tattoo on his left fist. He got the tattoo in 1974 after reporting on the Palestinian terrorists who slaughtered 22 children in a kibbutz nursery school at the Maalot kibbutz in the north.
Some don’t know Geraldo Rivera is a member of the tribe. So at a gala of the American Society of the University of Haifa on Oct. 28, 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.
“I am proud of my Jewishness and my Zionism,” he added.
Geraldo talked about his Jewish connections at the gala, held at New York’s American Museum of Natural History.
He 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. Cruz and Lily 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,”
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 Ido 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 15MinutesMagazine.com for 16 years. He is the author of Jewish Celebrity Hall of Fame, interviews of Hollywood stars about their Jewish roots.