Gene Simmons (b. 1949) Born Chaim Witz in Haifa, Israel to Hungarian Holocaust survivors, he emigrated with his mother to New York when he was 8 years old. Witz attended Yeshiva Torah V’Daat in Brooklyn. Later, he took up his mother’s maiden name and was known as Eugene Klein. After having played in several bands, he formed a new one called Kiss, a Hungarian translation of his last name, which means “small”. Due to their love of Purim, the band has become famous for their flamboyant costumes and make-up. Simmons has since starred in multiple films and TV shows, has published 5 books and several science fiction magazines (he is a fan of the genre). On a recent visit to Israel, he said “I’m Israeli. I’m a stranger in America. I’m an outsider”.
Chaim Witz, aka the Demon
Words of the Week
One whom people are pleased with, G-d is pleased with him; but one whom people are not pleased with, G-d is not pleased with him – Pirkei Avot 3:10
Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Born in Belorussia as Itzhak Yudovich Ozimov, his family immigrated to New York when he was only three, starting a chain of candy stores where he worked. After serving in the US Army, Asimov became a biochemistry professor at Boston University. He wrote his first book in 1950, and would go on to write and edit over 500 titles. His short story Nightfall is considered the greatest science-fiction piece of all time. Fluent in Yiddish, he would continue to speak the language throughout his adult life. Interestingly, he writes critically of his father for not having taught him the Orthodox Jewish way. In the opening of Wandering Stars, he writes: “I attend no services and follow no ritual and have never undergone that curious puberty rite, the bar mitzvah. It doesn’t matter. I am Jewish.”
Words of the Week
The wicked in their lifetimes are called “dead”; the righteous in death are called “living”. – Talmud, Berachot 18