On October 6, I published a Blog explaining the significance of that date in history, but I neglected to mention what took place on October 6, 1927, which featured the premier of “The Jazz Singer” starring Al Jolson in New York. It was recognized as the first movie to feature sound which in effect marked the end of the silent movie era. Jolson often sang in Blackface which was accepted at that time
My father was a loyal fan of Al Jolson and he motivated me to write a book review on a publication about Al Jolson’s life, which I did for a high school English class. Unlike my experience at Junior College which resulted in a grade of “F” from the teacher who realized I was Jewish, as described in a previous Blog, my High School teacher gave me a high mark and respected me for being a proud Jew.
The “Kosher” Lesson I Learned From The Jazz Singer
Movies in the 1920’s were considered kosher for most part because of the lack of foul language and modest dress to name a few important factors. But I want to point out a very important lesson that the Jazz Singer emphasized which took place toward the end of the film.
Al Jolson had run away from his father because he wanted his son to follow in his footsteps and keep the family tradition of being a Chazan in the neighborhood Shul. Al Jolson had become a successful Jazz singer and was due to perform on the night of Yom Kippur many years after running away. But he had heard that his father had fallen ill and could not be in Shul to sing Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur night. Therefore unless Al Jolson would come home to take his father’s place, there would be no one in Shul to be Cantor for Kol Nidre. His father had a dream that his son would indeed come back and sing Kol Nidre in Shul on Yom Kippur night.
At the end, Al Jolson decided that his parents were more important than any performance he would do and returned home, put on the Cantorial uniform and went to sing Kol Nidre as per his father’s dream. His father suddenly heard his son singing Kol Nidre from his bedroom window. And that is something that no money can buy because his father’s request was satisfied. Al Jolson was always respectful to his mother in the movie and one of the songs that featured in the film was entitled “Mammy”. A song that he will always be remembered by.
Honoring Your Mother And Father – Special Thanks Go To El Al
I might have mentioned this previously but it is worth repeating. My father became ill about one year after we made Aliyah. I had to get on the next El Al flight available to New York and catch a connecting flight to Minneapolis. This was long before we were able to book on-line and therefore I had to phone El Al reservations to book a flight. I was told all flights were full for the next few days which was very difficult to understand but then I decided I had to explain to the El Al agent why I needed to fly so urgently. The agent told me to hold on and a few minutes later she said they had booked me on a flight for the next day. When I asked how that was possible she said Jews do not lie about such situations and told me to have a nice trip. She also said El Al always leaves a few extra seats open in case this type of emergency comes up.
Whenever I would go visit my parents while they were in a typical Old Age home in the US, there were very few visitors for most of the day which was sad because many of the patients most likely had close relatives who lived fairly close but for one reason or another never were able to visit on a regular basis and so many patients would go hour after hour without visitors, even during visiting hours.
In Israel, a visit to an Old Age Home or hospital will reveal an amazing site. During visiting hours, those wards are very busy. Family members regularly visit their older parents and relatives so that there are rarely times patients are left alone. There are also special organizations that make a point of sending out volunteers to visit the sick and elderly.
And that seems to bring a very important point home with regard to COVID-19. Many stories came out about mothers and fathers suffering from the disease and close relatives could not visit them. Perhaps G-d is making us all aware that when times once again return to normal, that we consider taking some extra time out to visit those loved ones that need that extra bit of attention. As a final note, in my previous Blog the word “Fool” appeared. The movie that was made by Al Jolson following The Jazz Singer was The Singing Fool and that helped lead me to The Jazz Singer.