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More On Yossele Rosenblatt
Tue, 10/09/2012 - 20:00
Teaneck, N.J.

The editor and your letter-writer, Albert Volaski, are both right, and both wrong (Letter and Editor’s Note, Oct. 5) regarding Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt and “The Jazz Singer.”

Cantor Rosenblatt did indeed appear as himself in a concert scene in “The Jazz Singer,” as the editor pointed out. However, the role Volaski was discussing was not the one played by Al Jolson, but rather that of Cantor Rabinowitz, the father of Jolson’s character. After Rosenblatt turned it down, it was given to Werner Oland (who later gained fame when he was cast as Charlie Chan).

Contrary to popular belief, Rosenblatt also refused even to dub Kol Nidre for Oland, which the actor could not sing himself.
According to music historian Kevin Brownlow, the voice for Oland’s Kol Nidre was that of tenor Joseph Diskay. But at the end of the movie, Jolson also sings Kol Nidre, in his own inimitable style.

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For more on Chazzan Rosenblatt and The Jazz Singer, see the feature page on the movie, with an excerpt from the Chazzan's biography, written by his son, on the Al Jolson Website at