Charity Gets by With a Little Help From a Friend

By Gabriel Sanders and Eric J. Greenberg

Published November 12, 2004, issue of November 12, 2004.

What does it take to join together a rock legend with a Jewish women’s charity? A stapler, of course.

As part of an online charity auction sponsored by office-supply giant Staples, Ringo Starr has autographed a stapler that will be up for bid on the company’s Web site (www.staples.com) from November 16 to December 6.

Proceeds from the sale of the One-Touch Stapler will go to Women’s American ORT, a Jewish group that promotes economic self-sufficiency through technological and vocational education.

The connection between Staples and ORT came about through the efforts of Jonathan Adler, the son of ORT board member Barbara Adler and a friend of Staples Vice President Jeff Scolnick. The Adlers are longtime friends of Starr and his wife, actress Barbara Bach. Barbara Adler’s brother, the late Alan Pariser, was a noted music producer responsible for organizing the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. He was also a founder of the album design company Camouflage Productions, which created some of Starr’s album covers.

Other celebrities participating in the “Staplers of the Stars” auction include Samuel L. Jackson, Liv Tyler, Meryl Streep, Tiger Woods, Ellen DeGeneres and Cher. Each has designated a charity of his or her choice.

But the Beatles drummer actually has had a long and interesting history with matters Jewish.

When the Fab Four landed in Montreal for their one and only visit there, in September 1964, they were greeted with word that Starr was receiving anonymous death threats for being an “English Jew.” Despite the fact that it was untrue — the charge’s “one major fault” as Ringo put it — Starr nevertheless took it seriously, repositioning his cymbals so as to deflect incoming bullets, and acquiring the services of a plainclothes police officer who sat hidden next to his drums for the concert. (It was, the drummer later recalled, “the worst gig of my life.”)

When Starr played a concert with his All-Starr Band at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio, in 1999, he was presented with a volume of the ArtScroll English translation of the Talmud by the Schottenstein family, who had underwritten the project.

To this day, antisemitic Web sites of the sort that offer long lists of names under headings such as “Jews Who Control Hollywood,” will give Starr’s name, always with the original “Richard Starkey” beside it, as though a name change alone were proof of Jewishness.

And then there is the matter of drummer’s generously endowed schnoz. But this issue, too, the former Beatle has long defused with his characteristic good humor. Asked once if comments about it bothered him, the drummer replied, “It goes up one nostril and out the other.”

Other connections: Ringo’s New York-based promoter, David Fishof, is an Orthodox Jew, and his wife’s father was Jewish.

ORT, which is an acronym taken from Russian, was founded in St. Petersburg in 1880 as a charity designed to assist impoverished Jews through the teaching of artisanal and agricultural skills.

Staples normally offers its One-Touch for $14.99. According to the company, the stapler comes equipped with staple-gun power and can drive through as many as 20 sheets.



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