Celeb-signed yarmulkes to go on display

Feb. 23, 2009 at 8:11 PM

SEATTLE, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- A Seattle man who collects celebrity-autographed yarmulkes said 32 of his signed Jewish skullcaps will be displayed at the University of Washington.

Jonathan Chalett, 52, said yarmulkes bearing signatures from public personalities including President Barack Obama, his former rival for the Democratic presidential nomination John Edwards, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry, athlete Magic Johnson, former Van Halen singer David Lee Roth, musician Elvis Costello and several others will be displayed from Wednesday until April 30 at the school's Odegaard Undergraduate Library, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Monday.

Chalett said his unusual collection began in 1999 when he met Magic Johnson and found he had nothing for the basketball star to sign other than a yarmulke left over from a recently attended wedding.

"I said, 'Is this the first yarmulke you've signed?' He said, 'It sure is, and I've signed a lot of things,'" Chalett said.

Rabbi Simon Benzaquen of the Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation in Seattle said he could see nothing wrong with an autographed yarmulke.

"It's not that it has any holiness in it. A person wears it for prayers; a person wears it when he eats at the table," Benzaquen said. "I suppose it depends what you write, of course."

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