Arts & Culture

Just in Time for Purim: Yarmulkes Autographed By Celebrity Goys

Want to get a friend a gift for Purim, but running low on ideas? If you live in the Seattle area, you can go – alone or with a buddy – to check out a collection of kippot autographed by … Read More

By / February 24, 2009

Want to get a friend a gift for Purim, but running low on ideas? If you live in the Seattle area, you can go – alone or with a buddy – to check out a collection of kippot autographed by famous people. The University of Washington will be displaying some of Jonathan Chalett’s extensive collection of celebrity-approved yarmulkes.

If you’re expecting the usual round of Jewish celebrities to be featured in this exhibit, well, you’d be wrong. There’s no Adam Sandler or Ben Stein. Instead, the signatures are from such esteemed non-Jews as John Kerry, John Edwards, Magic Johnson, and Barack Obama. So far, the only Jew on the list I’ve seen is David Lee Roth. 

Look, I’m not trying to say people have no right to sign their names on kippot if they’re not Jewish. I guess what bugs me about the whole thing is that it smacks of gimmickry. Having random famous politicians and basketball players sign their names on kippot is slightly more aesthetically interesting than having them sign cocktail napkins or blank sheets of paper, but otherwise what’s the point? Moreover, what’s the point of putting them on display? The idea of going into an art gallery, seeing a bunch of kippot hanging on a wall, and then going up to them and squinting, trying to decipher the handwriting, doesn’t really sound like fun – or a worthy exhibition. Looking at people’s signatures, no matter how famous they are, is boring. Maybe if there were cool pictures of celebrities wearing said kippot, or if the kippot had been woven into some kind of giant tapestry, it would be somewhat more interesting.

Do any of you live in Seattle and want to report back? The exhibit is up until April 30. Curiously, the article made no mention of exactly where on campus the kippot were going to be displayed. That makes me suspect they’re not going to be in an art museum, but rather in a glass case in the lobby of the Jewish Studies department or something. Just a hunch. Does anyone want to check it out and let me know?