Gene Simmons, whose birth name was Chaim Witz, came to the United States as an immigrant together with his mother when he was only eight years old, some 56 years ago. He was born in Israel. His mother, Flóra “Florence” Klein, was Hungarian and a Holocaust survivor. He did not speak any English at all when he came to the U.S. His father and his other siblings remained in Israel. At the right age, he changed his name to Eugene Klein, using his mother’s maiden name. He worked at several types of jobs in New York City, and at one point in his life became an assistant to a Vogue fashion magazine editor because of his good typing abilities. He even had a stint as an Upper West Side instructor for six graders.
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Simmons was at Huffington Post to discuss his band’s latest activities. While talking about the new tour of KISS and their reality series called “4th and Loud” the conversation turned to immigration and Simmons’ thoughts about it.
Simmons opined that the immigrants that come to the United States today are reluctant to learn English, which, according to the band leader, is actually the key to finding success in the country.
He recalled that America welcomed him and gave him all the advantages accorded its native-born children. He said he was able to think what he liked, do as he pleased and reach out to his dreams. He also learned that he needed to learn to speak English.
He continued by saying that immigrants should strive to get rid of their accents, be a legal immigrant and make an effort to assimilate and learn about the country’s culture. Simmons, who speaks five languages, said that it is a positive thing to be proud of your background but as an immigrant, one should have the willingness to blend in, which is crucial in finding success.
He added that immigrants should agree to one culture and language to facilitate communication with everyone, and still speak your own language when you’re at home or with members of your community. He said that they should make the effort, just like in the adage, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” in order to reap the rewards they seek. He told the interviewer that being an immigrant in not easy but learning English is a prerequisite. He says that the more someone learns about American history, the more advantageous it will be for a newcomer to the United States.