Brodner’s Cartoon du Jour: Rosenblatt

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In our time and place, the humility of atonement and the calling to account have a deep imperative. Just open a newspaper or any news website. How fine a mass atonement and a dawning self-awareness would be.

This all brings to mind Cantor Yosele Rosenblatt. A recent Times piece about an intrepid audio amateur in Crown Heights who is meticulously restoring Rosenblatt’s old records said this about the cantor:

“Mr. Rosenblatt was born in Russia in 1882 and toured Eastern Europe as a child prodigy. In 1912 he immigrated to the United States and became the cantor at Ohab Zedek, an Orthodox synagogue then on 116th Street in Harlem. Blessed with a penetrating bell-like tenor with a range of two and a half octaves, and a gift for coloratura and falsetto, Mr. Rosenblatt had the ability to squeeze the pathos or elation out of every prayer.”

He was a celeb in his time and became most famous, perhaps, for singing in the first full-length “talkie” film, The Jazz Singer. Here, playing himself, he reminds Al Jolson of his father and of the huge tank-car of guilt he should be feeling. (Jolson can’t quite get Bill Demarest into the concert. I’m sure Preston Sturges could do it, but that’s another movie.) The cantor would not perform “Kol Nidre” in the movie, because he felt that it was a prayer and not appropriate for popular performance. In any case, you can see and hear this man called the “Jewish Caruso.”

I have included Max Bruch’s “Kol Nidre” below, performed by the incomparable Jacqueline Du Pré. Peace.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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