Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

The Scroll

No. 5: The Jazz Singer

The struggle to be heard

Print Email
(Getty Images)

1927, dir. Alan Crosland. Thanks to The Jazz Singer, the first sound heard in a feature film was a conversation between a Jewish mother and her child. This historic 1927 movie was based on play drawn from the real-life story of Al Jolson, who would later play the character he inspired. The son of a cantor, Jolson let his inherited knack for singing and acting take him far from his insular roots and all the way to Hollywood—where he eventually earned the title of “World’s Greatest Entertainer.” His filmic doppelganger, Jakie Rabinowitz, abandons his family’s religious traditions by entertaining beer-hall patrons with popular tunes. After being chastised by his cantor-father, Jakie runs away from home, changes his name, and finds success and fortune as a renowned jazz singer. But the past eventually catches up with him—don’t miss the cameo of megastar cantor Yossele Rosenblatt, appearing as himself—and this film, about the ambitions of one immigrant Jew, came to highlight the all-too-universal struggle between individualism and the pull of history and family.

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

No. 5: The Jazz Singer

The struggle to be heard

More on Tablet:

Why the Teenage Girls of Europe Are Joining ISIS

By Lee Smith — Because they want the same things that teenage boys want: a strong sense of meaning and purpose