Life & Culture

How an Orthodox Jewish boys choir took over TikTok

The undeniably Ashki sounds of Miami Boys Choir have blown up on social media


Orthodox Jewish pop is not a genre that many people will be intimately familiar with. Despite the upbeat, Rick-Astley-style drums, the catchy, repetitive lyrics and the genuine talent of the vocalists, it's not the sort of music that enjoys widespread appeal beyond Orthodox communities in Israel or the US.


#duet with @miamiboyschoir #vocals that outfit though… #mbc #miamiboyschoir #jewish #jewishtiktok

♬ Miami Boys Choir. Yerushalayim Live Version - MBC

But, for millions on Tiktok, it's become their new musical obsession. Yerushalayim, a song composed and written by the Miami Boy's Choir has taken over the app.


🗣🗣🗣🗣 after 40+ years of performance excellence, here were 4 soloists who helped usher in big changes for the Miami Boys Choir - the beginning of the Gen-Z generation of MBC’s worldwide fans and followers (2008-2012) #vocals #solo #performance #israel #ישראל #מוסיקה #music #jewish

♬ Miami Boys Choir. Yerushalayim Live Version - MBC

Since it was posted a few weeks ago, the video of four Jewish boys belting out lyrics in Ashki-Hebrew (Think Oilam instead of Olam) has racked up gobsmacking numbers. Eight million views, 930,000 likes and spawning infinite duets with users adding their own vocals and lyrics to the catchy song capturing the hearts of Jews far and wide.


The Atheism leaving my body when this comes on ✡️ #miamiboyschoir #jewish #vocals #mbc #jewishtiktok

♬ Miami Boys Choir. Yerushalayim Live Version - MBC

And it's not just Jews who love the song either, millions of teenagers from all kinds of backgrounds have posted their infatuation with the boys of the Miami Choir and their inimitable stage presence, designing T-shirts, making up dances and even swooning over what the singers look like now.

Now, at this point, it's natural to have some questions. Who are the Miami Boys Choir? Why have they suddenly developed such a cult following? And more importantly, are any of them still singing?


David and Binyomin carry fr🥱 #fyp #miamiboyschoir #artbybamuel #art

♬ Miami Boys Choir. Yerushalayim Live Version - MBC

The JC spoke to two of the main soloists and found out how they're enjoying their viral moment. Binyamin Abramowitz, depicted in the viral video towards the end, wearing a red satin shirt and purple tie, now a medical student in New York, told the JC that the video's viral success was: "mind-boggling."

He said: "The fact that people are appreciating, and encouraging it, I can't wrap my head around that.

"The target audience for the choir really is a very niche, not even the whole Orthodox community, it's a niche even within the Orthodox community, it wasn't universally known,

"People didn't universally go to the concerts or hear all of the songs, that specific song Yerushalayim which has gone viral, you know, most of my friends probably have never heard of it.

"And now with the creation of the TikTok account, and then boom, you know, everybody in the world seems to be listening to it and appreciating it.

"The people loving it, these are people who don't even understand the language, or, you know, have any sort of interaction or relationship with Jewish culture, in general. So I think it's really incredible to see."

And his older brother Akiva agrees.

Now studying to be a lawyer and singing with Jewish acapella group YStuds in his spare time, he was not expecting viral stardom outside of the Jewish world either.

He said: "I'm still taken aback by the fact that people are being exposed to this and really enjoying it, because our audience whenever when we performed were always Orthodox Jews.

"The type of music really wasn't popular for non-Orthodox people even in terms of other Jews. It surprised me and still surprises me how I still continuously see these types of people just getting excited.

"It just shows you that even if you're only popular in the Orthodox world, it doesn't mean that you're not talented, it's just that other people don't get exposed to you in the same way."

But one man who was not surprised by the MBC success story was Chananya Begun. Chananya is the son of founder Yerachmiel, a legend in the Orthodox pop world who started the Miami Boys Choir in Florida in 1977 before moving the group to the New York area in the 80s.

Yerachmiel, still the choir's director to this day, has worked with thousands of Orthodox boys holding yearly auditions and organising tours all over the world for the group. He also composes all the arrangements and writes the songs the group sing. Now in his later years, he entrusted the marketing of MBC to his son.

A few months ago, Chananya, who pleaded with his father to bring Miami to Tiktok, started the account believing that "something crazy could happen." Speaking from his home in Brooklyn, he said he always believed that Miami Boys Choir would take off.

He said: "About three months ago, I had a conversation on Shabbat, and I told my father, I really think we should bring Miami to Tiktok. We have to do this.

"So eventually he agreed and he gave me decades and decades of content, and what a starting point that was. For me, the bet was that Miami is in the extreme in two fronts. In spiritual connection and real genuineness as far as who we are.

"And the other extreme is the pursuit of excellence that we bring, it's really the commitment to excellence, with the fact that it's a kid group of 11 to 14 year olds and that combination, I just didn't think it existed out there."

And judging on the reactions elicited on social media, he may be right. In the thousands and thousands of comments on the videos of the boys, there's a distinct lack of the usual antisemitic reactions to Jews going viral.

Begun again is not surprised, saying that he knew that the boys' authenticity, combined with the social media packaging would win out and people would simply see it for what it is. An absolute banger.

Nevertheless, he's still grateful for how positive an experience it was, saying: "The overwhelming positivity that we've been seeing is almost unheard of on social media to see such a reaction to something Jewish."

The response that the Miami Boys have got, while seemingly incredibly over the top, is typical of the virality that Tiktok brings. Compared to more established social media networks, the ease with which users can insert themselves into trends allows a whole world of swooning that wouldn't be possible anywhere else.

But will this change anything for the now-midtwenties viral stars? Both of the Abramowitz brothers say they'll keep going with their medicial and legal careers, but are open to collabing with the other soloists.

Chananya however has big plans, but isn't giving anything away just yet. "I can't answer that question. There's so much interest flying around right now which is incredible in itself it's an unbelievable thing, there might be some wider thing happening. We'll see what happens."

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