Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt (1882-1933) was offered an opportunity that would make any performer swoon: a star role in the ground-breaking film The Jazz Singer (1927). Yet Rosenblatt refused this artistic opportunity of the lifetime. This paper contextualises Rosenblatt’s baffling decision, by exploring one possible relationship between art and law; in this case – the art of storytelling and the Jewish legal system. The study demonstrates where the two pursuits tread separate, unlinked paths to a common end. This vector is refracted through the lens of performance of prayers outside of the religious synagogue service; specifically the propriety of cantorial concerts that presented prayers from the High Holy Day liturgy. This issue appears in Jewish legal writing and in storytelling – each modality using its own tools to tackle the trend. It is noted that legal systems without effective enforcement mechanisms – such as Jewish law in the late modern period – could use arts as compensatory media for achieving societal order. More significantly, however, arts are not umbilically connected to law; each cultural creation independently strives to fashion society.Download the article from SSRN at the link.
June 8, 2015
Storytelling, the Jewish Legal System, and "The Jazz Singer"
Levi Cooper, Tel Aviv University, Buchmann Faculty of Law, is publishing Jewish Law, Hasidic Lore, and Hollywood Legend: The Cantor, the Mystic, and the Jurist in volume 2 of Critical Analysis of Law (Fall 2015). Here is the abstract.