Geraldo Rivera: On Being Jew-Rican, A Rare Mixed Breed

Geraldo Rivera: On Being Jew-Rican, A Rare Mixed Breed

Fox News Latino

Geraldo Rivero, Senior Correspondent
Fox News

(From my speech May 14, 2014 at The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey’s Women’s Philanthropy luncheon)

I’d like to talk about being Jewish in a Puerto Rican family by telling you the story of my Bar Mitzvah. First, some interesting background. Lily Friedman, my mom, now 94 and the pride of Siesta Key, Sarasota, Florida met my late dad Cruz Rivera of Bayamon, Puerto Rico in 1939 at Child’s Cafeteria on the corner of 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue [in New York City]. He had just emigrated from the island, literally arriving on the weekly banana boat; she was from Newark and was working as a waitress. He was in charge of the restaurant’s Latino dishwashers.

It was love at first sight. They married in Manhattan. Her family sat Shiva (went into mourning) in Newark. We lived on the Lower East Side. My dad was a sergeant in the Army during WWII. When he got out, we moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where my sister Irene and I attended PS 19, the local public school. Then we moved to West Babylon, Long Island where mom and dad bought a house for $10,000 under the GI Bill.

In West Babylon, we were not just the only Puerto Rican family, but also the only Jewish family. There was no Temple in West Babylon, so our tiny congregation held its services and my Bar Mitzvah in the local Volunteer Fire Department hall in North Lindenhurst, right near the tracks of the Long Island Railroad

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