He’s been a hard rocker for decades, but Kiss vocalist, founder and bassist Gene Simmons, aka Chaim Weitz, appreciates the value of a good education.
In a promotional YouTube video published last week, and speaking in Israeli-accented Hebrew as well as English, Simmons taped a personal message for the teenagers at the World ORT-affiliated Shifman School in his Tirat HaCarmel hometown, telling them to “work hard, use the tools World ORT has given you to make your own luck.”
“I live the life,” said the 62-year-old Simmons, who has been experiencing renewed celebrityhood with his family reality show, “Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels.” “But don’t be fooled by fantasy and fairy tales: Success is determined by what you put into it; don’t trust luck.”
ORT spokesperson Stefan Bialoguski said Simmons filmed the message several months ago, while headlining a fundraiser for ORT America in Los Angeles.
“This is just something he did from the heart,” said Bialoguski. “It’s topical given the impact we’re making at the school and at others in the periphery.”
The educational institution’s branch in Israel, Kadima Mada, or Science Ahead, helps improve learning conditions at 200 schools, training more than 3,300 teachers and serving more than 100,000 students in under-resourced areas, said Bialoguski, aiming to promote science and technology in Israel’s periphery.
Tirat HaCarmel’s Shifman School wasn’t in existence when Simmons left the town at the age of 8, when he went with his mother to live in New York. There he attended Yeshiva Torah Vadaat in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and later transferred to public school in Queens. He never graduated college, but taught sixth grade while in school and also worked as an editorial assistant at Vogue.
Simmons has always been a vocal supporter of Israel, particularly after his March 2011 visit, his first since leaving the country as a child. He recently took President Obama to task for his Israel policy, telling him not to make policy about a place that he isn’t familiar with.