Cantor Rabinowitz, the austere patriarch, wants Jakie (Al Jolson), his ambitious and talented son, to follow the family tradition and become a cantor. Jakie resists, runs away to sing ragtime under the name Jack Robin, and falls in love with a "shiksa" who brings him to Broadway where he becomes a star. Years pass. When Jack is asked to replace his ailing father at the Yom Kippur service, it means missing the opening of his own show. He agrees to sing the "Kol Nidre," despite the effect on his career, and Cantor Rabinowitz dies happily. In an ending tacked on by the Hollywood studio, however, Jack has it both ways and ends up performing on Broadway to his beaming mother. Jolson's use of blackface, a racist tradition widespread in vaudeville, says much about the need of Jews at the time to assert some kind of superiority over an even more despised minority. The quintessential film on Jewish assimilation, showbiz, and mother-love. Heralded the end of the silent film era.