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Jews of the Week: Leo Kahn and Thomas Stemberg

Possibly Everything On Your Desk (Including the Desk)

Staples Founders Thomas Stemberg and Leo Kahn

Leo Kahn (1916-2011) was born to Jewish-Lithuanian immigrants who owned a whole foods store in Massachusetts. After getting degrees from Harvard and Columbia, Kahn served across the globe for the US Air Force during World War II. Following this, Kahn took his parents store to a new level, opening up a chain of supermarkets which today go by many different brand names, the largest being Whole Foods. His greatest competitor was Thomas Stemberg, owner of First National Supermarkets. After battling each other in price wars, the two came together (as all Jews should do!) and realized there was a serious lack in the office supply industry. Thus was born Staples. This chain now has over 2280 stores in 26 countries, with a revenue of nearly $30 billion and over 90,000 employees. The EPA ranks Staples as one of the top 25 environmentally-friendly corporations, and the company is well-known for their philanthropic work. Leo Kahn passed away last May at age 94.

Words of the Week

Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.
– Talmud, Sanhedrin 37a