The viral Miami Boys Choir spreads Jewish joy on TikTok

Of course, Chananya Begun was surprised when he saw people on TikTok obsessed with a 2008 performance by the Miami Boys Choir, an Orthodox Jewish pop group fronted by his father, Yerachmiel Begun. But he wasn’t this surprised.

After all, everything is ridiculously good there. The rising voice of interpolations! The funky sax break! The choregraphy ! That’s not to mention the catchy song “Yerushalayim” or the specific era silk shirts that really tie it all together.

Since early September, MBC’s video of “Yerushalayim” (“Jerusalem” in Hebrew) has drawn more than 8.7 million views, and countless shoutouts and duets from dope TikTok users. Some even took to drawing fan art and choosing their favorite standouts, as if this group of Orthodox Jewish teenagers were causing a K-pop sensation.

Watch MBC’s “Yerushalayim” Performance Here

“They’re amazing kids,” Begun told CNN. “We want this group to be a vehicle for positivity, excellence and hard work.”

Begun, who manages MBC’s TikTok account and is heavily involved in leading the group, is happy to see so many people from different cultures and places discovering the appeal of orthodox pop music. Additionally, Jewish voices on social media are moved that their childhood music has become a far-reaching celebration of Jewish joy.

Make no mistake, the Miami Boys Choir is not some little-known band brought out of obscurity by a kaleidoscopic TikTok algorithm.

“For families and children in the Orthodox world, it is important to be part of this institution,” says Begun.

MBC was founded in Miami in 1977 by Yerachmiel Begun, a well-known Jewish composer and musician at the forefront of the Orthodox pop genre. The elder Begun, originally from New York, moved the entire operation to New York in 1980. MBC concerts are major events in the Jewish community, and in 1995 the group made music history. Jew when 15,000 people attended one of their performances at the Nassau Coliseum. .

Chananya Begun says her father composes all of the group’s songs – over 500 and counting, including 32 full albums.

Watching MBC perform songs like “Yerushalayim,” one thing becomes clear: These kids are really, really talented. But there’s something more that Begun says gives the band that stratosphere. I do not know what.

“Miami has a broad appeal in the orthodox pop world, and there are several reasons for that. There is definitely a spiritual element that brings people closer to God, however they want to define it. It keeps people connected and it’s very entertaining,” he says.

“But there’s also a real depth of feeling from these performers.”

About 500 performers entered and left the ranks of the Miami Boys Choir, made up of boys ages 10 to 14. Begun estimates that thousands more have auditioned. Considering the quality of work and artistry required to be part of such a group, it’s no surprise that many MBC alumni have gone on to successful musical careers. Contemporary Jewish music figures like Yaakov Shwekey and Ari Goldwag got their start on MBC, as did several members of the Jewish a cappella group The Maccabeats.

The stars of 2008’s “Yerushalayim” video also took to their newfound fame on TikTok, reprising their vocal parts and even pulling out those fabulous satin shirts. David Herskowitz, now 27, has been an MBC soloist for years and is entertaining new fans on social media with original compositions and old favorites from MBC’s era. Listeners who branched out to other MBC performances via TikTok and YouTube also discovered Jewish artist Dovid Pearlman’s childhood voice.

While new MBC fans are clamoring for a 2008 team reunion, MBC artists are playing it cool for now.

“It’s an open road,” Herskowitz told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “I’m not really drawing any conclusions at the moment. And I’m trying to see where that leads.

All the fascinations of social media eventually fade, but the Miami Boys Choir’s new cultural imprint means more to Jewish communities than catchy tunes and charming characters.

“These boys are getting everyone talking about the Jewish people… in a positive way,” a Jewish TikToker said in a popular video, noting that all of MBC’s love has, if only for a moment, passed the cloud. habit of anti-Semitism that darkens social networks. the spaces.

Other users in her comments section agreed, “It makes me so happy to see people talking about our culture and our language in such a positive light.”

Other users were thrilled and a bit surprised that the Orthodox music they’ve loved for years is becoming so prominent.

“Yerushalayim” by the Miami Boys Choir

from Psalm 125

  • Yerushalayim
  • Hârîm sabîb lâh
  • wa Yhwāh sābîb le’ammōw
  • me’attāh we’ad-owlām
  • Jerusalem
  • The mountains surround it
  • and God surrounds his Nation
  • now and forever
  • “We grew up blowing up MBC,” wrote one TikTok user, who helpfully provided an English translation of “Yerushalayim” that has over 1.6 million views.

    When Chananya Begun launched the Miami Boys Choir’s TikTok account three months ago, he knew people would love the content. He knew they would reach new audiences and perhaps make new fans.

    Even he is surprised at how universally positive the reaction has been.

    “People always assume anti-Semitism is going to happen, and it does,” he says. “But here there is almost a complete lack of that. There’s all this positivity and love.

    It is disheartening that such a lack of hate is noticeable. However, Begun says the whole point of music like this, from bands like Miami Boys Choir, is to spread a message of love.

    “That’s what we want to show. If you strive for excellence as the authentic person you are meant to be, it can change hearts and minds,” Begun says. “It can make a difference in the world.”

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