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JewishJournal.com

May 29, 2003

Do the Jews Need Geraldo

http://www.jewishjournal.com/up_front/article/do_the_jews_need_geraldo_20030530

Geraldo Rivera has rediscovered his Jewish roots, and he declares the Jews "need" him back.

Rivera, 59, the flamboyant TV reporter, recently announced to the Philadelphia Inquirer and The Washington Post that he is planning to marry TV producer Erica Levy, 29, in a Reform ceremony in New York this summer.

Rivera, whose mother is Jewish and father is Puerto Rican, told The Washington Post that "the Jews need me right now," apparently, according to the Inquirer, to help sort out the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Rivera could not be reached for comment, but he told The Washington Post that he is going to "take this whole Judaism thing seriously" from now on.

While this is his fifth wedding, Rivera said it's his first in a synagogue or church. He celebrated a dual bar mitzvah in Israel with his oldest child, Gabriel, now 23.

Rivera has come under fire for some of his TV work in Israel and the Palestinian territories for Fox News. The media watchdog groups StandWithUs.com and the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), blasted Rivera in 2002 for his reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Although uninformed coverage of the Israel-Palestinian crisis is common, Rivera's combination of inanity and incessant self-reference to his own feelings, reactions and experiences has prompted particular audience disgust and derisive criticism from other journalists," CAMERA said.

That April 2002 criticism came after Rivera said that although he had been a lifelong Zionist and "would die for Israel," Palestinian suffering was turning him also into a "Palestinian-ist."

Rivera and Levy are due to wed this August at the 128-year-old Central Synagogue in Manhattan. The guest list at the ceremony and reception, to be held at the tony Four Seasons, is said to include the likes of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Upon learning of Rivera's Jewish wedding, Andrea Levin, executive director of CAMERA, said, "He's not going to be a Palestinian-ist anymore?"

While a Jewish marriage "doesn't always necessarily guarantee level-headed reporting," she added, "I certainly hope he has a long and happy marriage and that it helps inform his reporting."

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