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Film Class: The Jazz Singer

  • Jewish Community Library 1835 Ellis Street San Francisco, CA 94115 (map)

Free program with free garage parking on Pierce Street between Ellis and Eddy streets.

As the centrality of immigration in American history and identity has been at the forefront in recent months, we will examine films made during an era when most American Jews were immigrants themselves or the children of immigrants.

In the film that marked the transition from silent films to talkies (although it is largely silent), Al Jolson stars as Jakie Rabinowitz, a gifted singer whose desire to perform popular music conflicts with his father’s expectation that he become a cantor. Following Rabinowitz as he anglicizes his name, adopts blackface for his performances, and struggles with his family and tradition, this film would be the most explicit cinematic representation of a Jewish identity crisis for decades. 1927, 89 minutes, in English.

Taught by Library Director Howard Freedman. Films will be shown in video projection.