TikTok has the power to make quite literally anything popular—even an obscure 2007 performance of the Miami Boys Choir singing an Orthodox pop song. The video is ripe for nostalgic virality online: prepubescent awkwardness, ill-fitting button-down shirts and slacks, and surprisingly crisp vocals. But what makes it stand out, in particular, is the cross-cultural nature of newfound fans’ obsession with the music.
The Miami Boys Choir posted their first video back in June, and since then, their page has grown in popularity. The video in question, of their 2007 performance, has spawned fan-favorite members who are becoming TikTok celebrities in their own right, as well as a hunger, from their 124,000 followers, for more content..
The choir was founded in Miami Beach, Fla., by Yerachmiel Begun in 1977. They still perform as a group today with new members, though they are now based out of New York City. According to The Jewish Chronicle, Yerachmiel is still the director of the choir, and he composes all of the arrangements and writes the songs that the group sings. Begun’s son, Chananya, told NBC News that he started the TikTok account. “I told him: ‘Dad, we have to get on TikTok … There’s a chance, nobody knows for sure, but there’s a chance something crazy could happen.” He uploaded the performance from 2007 and within a month, it had garnered more than eight million views.
The video features four soloists—brothers Binyamin and Akiva Abramowitz, Yoshi Bender, and David Herskowitz—singing “Yerushalayim” (which translates to Jerusalem). Each of the boys takes turns singing a verse from the upbeat, Orthodox song in Hebrew with some true vocal talent. Recently, TikTok users became drawn to the buoyant nature of the song and how well the boys were singing it—even if they don’t know the lyrics’ meaning. “I’ve never heard of the Miami boys choir and I have no idea what they are saying but I think I’m in love with this video,” one TikTok user commented. Someone else joked that the song gave new meaning to the term Kpop: “Kosher Pop.”
Good pop music is inherently addictive, and the appeal of the choir seems to lie in just how catchy the songs are even to viewers who lack a linguistic or cultural understanding of them. Binyamin, who joined when he was 9 and left at around age 14, is now in his residency to be a gastroenterologist in New York. “We never got recognition like this before. It’s fascinating,” he told NBC News, which tracked down the singers after the video went viral. “The fact that everyone in the world is loving this even though they don’t understand the language … I’m trying to wrap my head around it.” Akiva is studying to be a lawyer and still sings with an a capella group called the YStuds, The Jewish Chronicle reports. “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,” he tells The Jewish Chronicle.
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Hershkowitz, like Binyamin, was also in the choir for five years. Since the video started to go viral, he made his own TikTok account and comically duetted the video. His duet has over six million views, and people have continued to request that he sing some of their new favorite Hebrew songs.
Though Bender has not made an appearance, there are demands for all four boys (now men) to reunite and sing together once again. Both of the Abramowitz brothers are open to the possibility of a reunion but played it coy when asked about it by the Jewish Chronicle. “I can’t answer that question. There’s so much interest flying around right now, which is incredible in itself,” he said.
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