How TikTok turned the Orthodox favorite Miami Boys Choir into pop culture phenomenon - Jewish Telegraphic Agency (2023)

(JTA) — “K-pop is over,” one Twitter user declared. “We’re listening to Orthodox Pop from now on.”

With those words, the Miami Boys Choir has transformed over the last two weeks from a singing group popular among Jewish insiders to a viral sensation. On TikTok and Twitter, users have shared clips of the group’s concerts, overlaid its music with other scenes and inserted themselves into split-screen duets. New fans of MBC, as the group is known for short, have chosen their favorite singers through their stage presence, their vocals, or simply, their “it” factor.

Some are finding it hard to choose. “How does every single one of these kids have the it factor,” said one person who shared the now-viral video of a 2008 performance of “Yerushalayim.”

K-pop is over. We're listening to Orthodox Pop from now on.

— Microplastics Enjoyer (@EclecticHams) September 6, 2022

Some basics for newcomers to the cult of MBC: The Miami Boys Choir is not based in Miami. Its members do as much dancing as singing. And the boys in the viral videos are, well, men now.

Some of them have joined in the fun, riffing on their own long-ago performances with lip sync videos and an a cappella rendition of “Yerushalayim” by MBC alumni in the all-vocal group, the Maccabeats.

David Herskowitz even pulled out his old silver satin shirt and red tie to reenact his performance, which he posted to TikTok.


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

♬ original sound – Yerachmiel Begun and MBC

“It was hilarious,” Herskowitz recalled about his time as a choir member, speaking to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “I mean, it was awesome. You got to travel the world, perform for various communities.”

Herskowitz was 5 when his father took him to see the Miami Boys Choir in concert. The group had already been in existence for nearly a quarter-century since being founded in Miami in 1977 by an Orthodox composer and musical director named Yerachmiel Begun. (Begun moved the group to New York City in 1980 but kept the Miami name.)

Since Herskowitz’s father knew Begun when they were younger, the two were invited backstage, and that was when Herskowitz told his father he would sing in the choir one day. He joined the group when he was 10 or 11 and stayed until he graduated — members leave around 14, when their voices get too deep to fit into the songs. During those years, he toured widely and appeared on some of the group’s recorded albums — there are currently 32 in the discography.

“I was always into music,” Herskowitz said. “I always had a real connection and appreciation for music.”

Herskowitz said he barely touched music after leaving MBC —until recently, when he began composing during the pandemic. Now 27 and newly married, Herskowitz is using this viral moment to try putting original songs out into the world. After posting a teaser for his new music on TikTok this week, he quickly racked up more than 10,000 followers and nearly 400,000 likes.

The teaser was a song he premiered in January during another big moment in his life: his proposal to Yakira Gerszberg, a marine biologist studying sharks whom he credits with pushing him onto TikTok. Already, he said, one new fan has asked about using the song, “YOU,” for the first dance at his wedding.

“This is an open road,” said Herskowitz, whose day job is in digital marketing. “I’m not really drawing any conclusions yet. And I’m sort of just seeing where this goes.”

If Herskowitz makes it big, he would join other alums of the Miami Boys Choir who have gone on to prominent careers in the genre of Orthodox music, where romantic ballads with a spiritual element are embraced.

Those graduates include Ari Goldwag, Yaakov Shwekey, Shloime Dachsand Mordechai Shapiro —all household names for consumers of Orthodox music. Others, including Chanina Abramowitz, who was in the now-viral “Yerushalayim” video, have since gone on to join the Maccabeats, an all-male Jewish a capella group famous for their Hanukkah mashups and turning songs like Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” and Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” into “Candlelight” and “All About That Neis.” In 2015, the Maccabeats performed at the White House Hanukkah Party.

One defining characteristic of the Orthodox pop genre is its exclusivity — for male singers only. For modesty purposes, under Jewish law, men are prohibited from hearing women sing, though women can sing in front of other women.

Many others have gone on to careers not in music, including Herskowitz’s two younger brothers, Jeremy and Max. The family is one of many to send multiple children to the choir, which itself has been a family project.

The Begun family also comes from a legacy of musicians and performers, including MBC composer Yerachmiel Begun’s father, the former vaudeville actor Chaim Begun. Yerachmiel Begun’s wife Shoshana, a classical pianist, wrote many of the group’s English songs, such as “Sunshine” from the 1995 album, “One by One.”

Now, the Miami Boys Choir, which Yerachmiel Begun still leads, albeit with a totally new cohort of boys than the video, will be returning to the stage with their annual Sukkot tour of the tri-state area. (Dates and locations for the tour have not been set yet, but the group’s website shows that it held auditions last spring in two places: Miami and Lakewood, New Jersey, which has a large Orthodox community.)

MBC’s TikTok account is run by Yerachmiel and Shoshana Begun’s son Chananya Begun, who is also a music producer and the owner of the Young Talent Initiative, a creative arts organization to support young Orthodox musicians. He presented his father with the idea of creating a TikTok account at a Shabbat meal several months ago, citing the group’s more than 40 years of content.

“I just think something crazy might happen,” the younger Begun recalled telling his father, whom he called “not tech-y Mr. Social Media.” He added, “For me, personally, I was obviously motivated for multiple reasons, as far as furthering my father’s legacy and Miami’s legacy.”

When he first started posting the videos two months ago, engagement was moderate. But six weeks ago, the “Yerushalayim” video started blowing up. Since then, web traffic has increased, people have been buying albums and subscriptions to MBC’s music, and Spotify listens have tripled, Chananya Begun said. Even TV studios and documentary producers have been reaching out to the Beguns.

“We’ve seen incredible reactions and it’s been absolutely wild to watch,” Begun said. “Absolutely crazy.”

Beyond MBC’s popularity with the Orthodox Jewish world, Begun has been impressed by the group resonating with non-Jews and people who haven’t identified much with Judaism in recent years. Tweets and comments left on their videos often refer to people not understanding a word of the music but listening to the songs on repeat.

The “Yerushalayim” video, which is less than a minute long, has thousands of comments on TikTok, and hundreds have duet videos as people react to the song. Comments praise the young boys’ talent, often admitting, “this song has no business being this good.” New fans rank or choose their favorite singer, much like fangirls would have a favorite Beatle or member of One Direction.

MBC isn’t the only Orthodox Jewish boys choir to take on the pop genre — the Yeshiva Boys Choir, famous for their song “Ah Ah Ah,” which draws from the Hebrew acrostic prayer “Ashrei,” has a similar pop sound with religious and spiritual elements.

The YouTube version of the full “Yerushalayim” song, which was uploaded Sept. 11, well into the frenzy, has 70,000 views. “I’m not Jewish but I’ve listened to this so many times I’ve memorized the words,” one user commented. Another wrote, “I would give away my first born child to go back in time to watch this concert live.”

This kind of exaggerated proclamation is not uncommon in the world of pop fandom, and the comparisons of MBC to Korean boy band BTS of K-Pop fame have been made clear in the comment section and in TikToks about the group.

Jewish comedian Eitan Levine declared the Miami Boys Choir to be “the Jewish BTS” in one video, with commenters suggesting that perhaps “K-Pop” could stand for “Kosher Pop.”

But creating something to appeal to the general public was never the goal with their music, or the TikTok account, Chananya Begun said. After all, the video that went viral is from more than 10 years ago, when MBC’s audience was primarily Orthodox.

“We didn’t do anything that wasn’t genuinely Miami Boys Choir,” he said. “It just spoke to us that being genuine is the most powerful weapon to change the world.”

“We have this Orthodox-but-American entertainment type of thing that seems to really be having some wide appeal, all of a sudden, out of the blue.”


Why is the Miami Boys Choir so popular? ›

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.

What happened to Miami Boys Choir? ›

After a few years, Begun moved the group to Brooklyn, where it is still based today, but the original name stuck (after a very brief stint as the Miami Choir Boys). For the 66-year-old Begun, the choir's explosion onto the national stage has been unexpected but rewarding.

What is the Miami Boys Choir singing? ›

Jewish Orthodox choir's video from 2007 goes viral, former members soak in adulation. TikTok users are going wild over an old video of the Miami Boys Choir singing "Yerushalayim" in Hebrew.

What is the best boys choir in the world? ›

Male Choirs
1.Diocesan Boys' School ChoirFelix Tsi Shing Shuen
2.Västgöta Nations Manskör KorgossarnaRebecka Gustafsson
3.The Orthodox Male Choir "Armonia"Ion Iulian Dumitru
4.Coro Polifonico di RudaFabiana Noro
6 more rows

What is the most elite choir in the world? ›

Conducted by André van der Merwe since 2003, the Stellenbosch University Choir of South Africa is at the top of our list.

Who is the target audience for TikTok? ›

Ages 10-19 are 25% of users. Ages 20-29 are 22.4% of users. Ages 30-39 is 21.7% of users. Ages 40-49 is 20.3% of users.

What is the Miami trend on TikTok? ›

Over the past week, more than 10,000 videos featuring "Miami, My Amy" have been posted on TikTok. It's a great example of how songs can unexpectedly get new life through social media, allowing a new generation of music fans to connect with an artist they may not have been exposed to before.

What is the deal with TikTok's voice? ›

The mystery woman behind TikTok's voiceovers is Canadian voice actress Beverly Standing. Standing has a history as a popular voice over artist working within Canada and the US. Mainly on TV commercials and infomercials with big clients including the likes of Disney, Honda, and Fage.

Does the Harlem Boys choir still exist? ›

The Boys Choir of Harlem Inc. is a world renowned performing arts and educational institution serving over 500 boys and girls.

What happened to the Harlem Boys choir? ›

The Choir relocated to the Metropolitan Community Methodist Church. Walter Turnbull died at age 62 on March 23, 2007, in a New York City hospital after suffering a massive stroke. In 2009 choir alumnus Terrance Wright announced at the Metropolitan Community Methodist Church that the Choir was officially closed down.

When did they stop castrating Vienna Boys choir? ›

The practice was completely banned in the Papal States in 1870, with the last surviving castrato, Alessandro Moreschi, having undergone the surgery around 1865.

What music is Miami famous for? ›

Miami is considered a "hot spot" for dance music. Starting in the 1970s with acts like Jimmy Bo Horne and KC and The Sunshine Band, dance music coming out of Florida could be heard all over the world.

What type of music is popular in Miami? ›

By the time the 21st century came, Latin pop culture has influenced Miami very much and the artists started experimenting with hip hop, EDM, and pop while blending Latin flavors to it. Miami is one of the hotspots of dance music which has evolved further with the influences of EDM or Electronic Dance music.

Was Miami conceived by a woman? ›

Julia DeForest Tuttle (née Sturtevant; January 22, 1849 – September 14, 1898) was an American businesswoman who owned the property upon which Miami, Florida was built. For this reason, she is called the "Mother of Miami." She is the only woman to have founded what would become a major American city.

Which church has the best choir in the world? ›

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square at around 360-strong, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which was founded in Salt Lake City in 1847 and has become a cornerstone of US choral tradition, performing at several U.S. presidential inaugurations including those of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump.

Who has the best male singing voice of all time? ›

Check out this list of ten of the greatest male vocalists of our time!
  • David Bowie. ...
  • John Lennon. ...
  • Freddie Mercury. ...
  • Prince. ...
  • Axl Rose. ...
  • Frank Sinatra. ...
  • Marvin Gaye. ...
  • Elvis Presley. Sometimes being cited as one of the world's first famous rock artists, Elvis was no stranger to exploring different genres.
4 Feb 2016

Who has the best soprano voice? ›

These are the 15 absolute greatest sopranos of all time
  • Cecilia Bartoli. Cecilia Bartoli is the great adventurer of modern sopranos: a voice to die for, but coupled with absurd creative ambition and tremendous humour. ...
  • Monsterrat Caballé ...
  • Maria Callas. ...
  • Diana Damrau. ...
  • Joyce DiDonato. ...
  • Renée Fleming. ...
  • Mirella Freni. ...
  • Anna Netrebko.

Who has the most beautiful vocal in the world? ›

The greatest singing voices of all time
  • 1 of 31. Barbra Streisand. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for BSB. ...
  • 2 of 31. Etta James. Charles Paul Harris/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images. ...
  • 3 of 31. Aretha Franklin. ...
  • 4 of 31. Whitney Houston. ...
  • 5 of 31. Mariah Carey. ...
  • 6 of 31. Elton John. ...
  • 7 of 31. Freddie Mercury. ...
  • 8 of 31. Adele.
21 Oct 2022

Who is the highest soprano? ›

In particular, the coloratura soprano has the highest tessitura of all the soprano subtypes. Soprano subtypes: As with all voice types, sopranos are often divided into different subcategories based on range, vocal color or timbre, the weight of voice, and dexterity of the voice.

Which country uses TikTok the most? ›

Breakdown of number of TikTok users by country

According to the latest data on TikTok's advertising reach, the United States is home to the majority of TikTok users worldwide, with more than 140.6 million TikTokers residing there.

Does TikTok have 18+ content? ›

While TikTok will continue to forbid sexually explicit content, it is also creating an option to allow users to host adult-only broadcasts featuring colorful language and mature topics. In the release, TikTok suggested this could be used for adult-themed comedy or discussions about sensitive and triggering topics.

What age is TikTok aimed for? ›

Age restrictions

TikTok requires its users to be at least 13 years old – although there's no robust age-verification in place. Despite users having to be aged 13 and up the age ratings for TikTok are, a little confusingly, 12+ on Apple's App Store and "Parental Guidance Recommended" on the Google Play Store.

What makes TikTok trendy unique? ›

TikTok's main selling point is that it features built-in recording and editing capabilities that make it easy for content creators to quickly record, edit, and post video content on the platform–and have them go viral when done right.

What is TikTok most popular trend? ›

Discover the hottest trends on TikTok this month.
  • Trend: I'm Not Meant to Work — May 27, 2022. ...
  • Trend: Loop — May 20, 2022. ...
  • Trend: The 60s — May 20, 2022. ...
  • Trend: One Thing About Me — May 13, 2022. ...
  • Trend: Freaky Friday — May 13, 2022. ...
  • Trend: 30 Thousand? ...
  • Trend: About Damn Time — May 6, 2022.

What makes a trend popular on TikTok? ›

Tip: The key to creating a trending challenge is that it must be easy to replicate and appealing enough that TikTokers will want to participate. Brands on TikTok can use challenges to create massive user-generated content, build brand awareness, grow their TikTok following, and create a loyal community of fans.

Why do people use TikTok text-to-speech? ›

It's a helpful accessibility feature for people with visual impairments so that they can watch TikToks without reading any text on the screen. Here's how to use text-to-speech on TikTok and choose which speech bot you want to narrate your videos.

What is TikTok's message? ›

About direct messaging on TikTok. Direct messaging (DM) helps you connect with your friends and community on TikTok. Messaging means you can send and receive messages, and TikTok videos, directly on TikTok.

Who is the girl behind TikTok voice? ›

If you were wondering if the voice on TikTok is an actual person, a woman is claiming that she's the text-to-speech speaker. Kat Callaghan, a radio host for Canadian-based station 91.5 the beat and a voice-over artist, says she is the voice behind the speech feature on the app, she shared on her TikTok page.

Who is the leader of the choir boys? ›

Early on, Jack retains the sense of moral propriety and behavior that society instilled in him—in fact, in school, he was the leader of the choirboys. The first time he encounters a pig, he is unable to kill it.

Why are there only choir boys? ›

Boys' choirs, as a Western World cultural tradition, developed in the Middle Ages. Boys were then responsible for contributing a treble sound to church music, since women were typically barred from the performance of sacred music in a public (gender mixed) context.

Is choir boy a true story? ›

It's the story of the fictional "National Boychoir School" and features the singing of students from the local, real-life American Boychoir School.

Was a choir boy who was dismissed when his voice changed? ›

He had to work hard to fulfill his obligations as a chorister, and when his voice changed, he was expelled from both the cathedral choir and the choir school. With no money and few possessions, Haydn at 17 was left to his own devices.

What happened to voices of our city choir? ›

Voices of Our City Choir was a choir from Season 15 of America's Got Talent. They were eliminated in the Semifinals.

Where is Harlem Gospel Choir? ›

The Harlem Gospel Choir is an American gospel choir based in Harlem, New York.

Are there any castrato left? ›

Moreschi (1858-1922) was the last castrato singer, the sole remaining specimen of a great line that flourished as early as the 16th century and that came to fruition in the 18th century with a pair of castrati who arguably could have been the greatest singers who ever lived - Farinelli and Pacchierotti.

Are there modern day castrato? ›

By the late 17th century, and for another century, the male lead was a high-voiced male. If there wasn't a role for a castrato, the opera was probably going to be a failure. But, in the modern world, castratos singers are non-existent and we still want to hear these operas.

Are there still castrati singers? ›

The word castrato literally means castrated. Such singers were very sought after in the early days of the opera. Most of the main soprano roles in operas by Handel and other composers of that time were written for castrati. Nowadays they are almost always sung by female sopranos, since there are no castrati left.

What is Miami known for culture? ›

The Magic City Miami embraces Hispanic heritage, Jewish American heritage, Caribbean heritage, Haitian heritage, and whatnot. Celebrations of the vivid culture in Miami is an ongoing festival often in the form of art festivals, display in museums, diversity in cuisine, traditional festivals, and many more.

Is Miami a rich country? ›

According to a 2018 UBS study of 77 world cities, Miami is the second richest city in the U.S. and third richest globally in purchasing power. Miami is a majority-minority city with a Hispanic population of 310,472, or 70.2 percent of the city's population, as of 2020.
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What is the most famous club in Miami? ›

LIV Miami

LIV is Miami Beach's most famous club, and for good reason.

What is the biggest nationality in Miami? ›

Race See More Race Data
Population by RaceMiami-Dade
Black/African American450,40216.33%
American Indian/Alaskan Native5,7590.21%
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What made Miami so popular? ›

Miami is famous for its pristine beaches, non-stop nightlife, and fantastic warm weather. Miami is also known for its mind-blowing skyline, luxurious shopping malls, Art Deco architecture, and high-end hotels.

Where is the party zone in Miami? ›

Miami is famous for its nightlife and that's in large part thanks to the South Beach scene. A barrier island brushing up against the Atlantic Ocean, South Beach is lined with mega-clubs that attract party people seven nights a week.

What percentage of Miami is female? ›

Persons 65 years and over, percent 16.6% 16.9%
Female persons, percent 50.1% 51.0%
Race and Hispanic Origin
White alone, percent 65.4% 79.2%
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Who were the first people in Miami? ›

Early inhabitants depended on the Miami River for food and spoke of their “Mayaimi” with pride. These early Native American settlers were known as the “Tequestas.” Later, Juan Ponce de Leon was the first European to visit in 1513 and Spain is credited for the first recorded landing in 1566.

What is the only US city founded by a woman? ›

City of Miami on Twitter: "#Miami is the only major city founded by a woman.

What is the most famous choir in the United States? ›

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square

Formerly known as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, it was founded in Salt Lake City in 1847 and has become a cornerstone of US choral tradition, performing at several US presidential inaugurations including those of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and the present incumbent.

What is the best show choir in America? ›

Barstool's National Show Choir Rankings 2/17/22
​#'sChoir NameRaw Score
1.Linn-Mar "10th Street Edition"240
2.Ankeny Centennial "Spectrum"225
3.Pella "AcaPella"225
4.Omaha Westside "ATSC"220
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17 Feb 2022

What is the largest school choir in the world? ›

Young Voices - The largest School Choir in the World.

Why are boys choirs a thing? ›

Boys' choirs offer young males an active point of entrance into music and vocal training. They can also help to foster discipline, high standards and cultural awareness, as well as providing strong peer groups oriented around boys who identify themselves with a choir's cultural and ethical values.

Why is the choir so important? ›

Choirs encourage excellence in worship.

Ideally, a “performance” piece inspires people to praise. Likewise, using the choir for congregational songs is a powerful prompt to worship: people clearly hear the melody and join their voices as one.

What is an all girl choir called? ›

A women's choir or women's chorus is a choir formed exclusively by women. If all singers are young it is called a girls' choir. The voice types are usually soprano and alto, SSAA.

Where is show choir most popular? ›

A show choir (originally known as a "swing choir") is a musical ensemble that combines choral singing with choreographed dance, often with an overarching theme. It is most relevant in the Midwestern United States and was popularized by the American television show Glee.

Which college has the best choir? ›

The Cornell University Chorus is widely perceived as one of the top treble choirs in the USA. Founded in 1920, this entirely student-led choir, boasts 57 student members, taken from every university college and academic discipline.

Which voice is the highest in a choir? ›

Soprano. The soprano is the highest voice part of the choir, often used for melody lines - perhaps because the human ear is more sensitive to the higher frequencies of the notes we sing.

What is the deepest voice in choir called? ›

Basses. The name says it all. These men make up the bottom of the musical staff, and their incredibly deep tones are a rare but essential part of music making. Basses do for low notes what sopranos do for high notes.

What church has the largest choir? ›

Members of the Church of God International holds the Guinness World Record for being the Largest Gospel Choir in the World. The members are from all over the world, Grand Island, Brazil, the Phillipines etc.

Why does a choir boy wear a blue ribbon? ›

They wear black capes when moving from the school to the choir. Badges of achievement are worn with blue ribbons.

What is a choir boy called? ›

A choirboy is a boy member of a choir, also known as a treble.

Can a boy be a soprano? ›

Typically, the term "soprano" refers to female singers but at times the term "male soprano" has been used by men who sing in the soprano vocal range using falsetto vocal production instead of the modal voice. This practice is most commonly found in the context of choral music in England.

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