Sure, Chananya Begun was surprised to see people obsessing over a 2008 performance by the Miami Boys Choir, an Orthodox Jewish pop group led by his father, Yerachmiel Begun, on TikTok. He wasn’t surprised, though.
After all, it’s ridiculously good in every way. The high-pitched tween vocals! The groovy sax break! The dance moves! That’s not even mentioning the stirring song “Yerushalayim” or the period-appropriate silk shirts that tie the whole thing together.
Since early September, the MBC’s video of “Yerushalayim” (“Jerusalem” in Hebrew) has received over 8.7 million views, as well as numerous shoutouts and duets from TikTok fans. Some have gone so far as to draw fan art and pick their favorite soloists, as if this group of adolescent Orthodox Jewish boys were a K-pop sensation.
A love mission
All social media obsessions pass, but the Miami Boys Choir’s new cultural imprint means more to Jewish communities than catchy tunes and charming characters.
“These boys have everyone talking about Jewish people… in a positive way,” one Jewish TikToker said in a popular video, noting that the MBC love has, if only for a short time, overtaken the usual cloud of antisemitism that hovers over social media spaces.
“It makes me so happy to see people talking about our culture and language in such a positive light,” her commenters agreed.
Other users were both excited and surprised that the Orthodox music they’d been listening to for years was becoming so popular.
Chananya’s perseverance and love for the song contributed to its success
The Miami Boys Choir, founded in 1977 in Miami Beach, Florida, and led by Yerachmiel, is made up of Jewish children who sing a variety of original songs that they have performed live across the United States.
It took Chananya some convincing before his father agreed to open a TikTok account, he told Insider, because TikTok “wasn’t really his world or thing,” but Chananya saw an opportunity after noticing a pattern of young talented children going viral on the platform.
Chananya, the founder of a creative arts organization, said he had less work to do during the summer months and decided to create a TikTok account for the group.
On August 16, he posted a 2007 video of the choir performing “Yerushalayim,” which he claims received 20,000 views overnight.
Noticing that the video performed well in comparison to previous posts, he re-posted it a few days later, and it quickly went viral.
“It was only the second time I posted it that it went viral. Thank God I did that “He stated.
The video, titled “Four Miami soloists in 40 seconds,” featured four boys singing along to the song in turn, while the rest of the choir, dressed in bright shirts and standing in formation, performed a choreographed dance around them.
Chananya expressed delight that “Yerushalayim” was the TikTok post that launched the group’s viral success because the song has always held a special place in his heart.
He told Insider that it is the only song written by him that has ever been released by the Miami Boys Choir, as he wrote the trumpet and saxophone introductions.
“It was such a nice little thing to throw into the mix that the one that actually went viral was the one that I was involved in,” he said.
Boys Choir of Miami
Yerachmiel Begun, one of the Jewish music scene’s most prolific songwriters, was the inspiration behind the Miami Boys Choir. Yerachmiel founded the Miami Boys Choir in 1977 after working with other Jewish bands. (Several years later, he moved the choir to New York but kept the Miami name.) The choir has been a popular mainstay of Jewish music for decades, recording singles and albums full of catchy tunes with Jewish lyrics and touring around the world. Yerachmiel continues to conduct the choir, now with the assistance of his son Chananya.
Chananya suggested to his father a few months ago that they start a TikTok account for the choir. He expected some of his father’s songs to do well on the platform. “Perhaps something crazy could happen,” he recalls telling his father.
Chananya’s intuition was correct. Dozens of TikTok clips have received hundreds of thousands of views, and Yerushalayim has gone truly viral in recent days, with over nine million views on various platforms, thousands of comments, and a plethora of videos of people – mostly non-Jews – performing the song. Some users speculate on the meaning of the song’s lyrics, concocting their own theories. What is clear is that the song’s passion and beauty have struck a collective nerve.
Chananya said he hopes to honor his father’s legacy and message by sharing his music on TikTok
Chananya, who is not currently affiliated with the choir, said he was happy to volunteer his time to help his father set up the TikTok account. “I wanted to do something special for my father. It had the potential to be absolutely fantastic for him “Insider was told by him.
“I wanted to contribute to my father’s legacy. My father has worked so hard all these years and continues to work hard, so I just felt like if I could do something that would really blow this thing wide open, I should do it “Chananya stated.
According to Chananya, his father was taken aback when he discovered how popular his group had become on TikTok. “He and the rest of the family are still trying to process it,” he said.
Chananya hopes that by continuing to post videos about the choir, his father’s message of promoting “genuineness and excellence” through performance will spread.
“From a religious standpoint, we see art as an imitation of God, who creates and gives out of love. So, if we imitate him and combine that with being excellent on stage, I believe we can change the world for the better. That’s exactly what happened this time “He stated.