It’s funny how the weirdest things can make you proud of your roots. For some, it’s getting really excited over Starbucks holiday cups; for others, it’s a dance from your childhood or a celebrity that shares your heritage. For me, it’s the Miami Boys Choir.
Haven’t heard of them? If so, I don’t blame you, but I’d be shocked — they’ve shown up all over my TikTok feed to the point that the second I open up the app, I’m immediately met with Yoshi Bender’s dulcet tones and tweenage grin. For context, the Miami Boys Choir (MBC) is a boys choir that specializes in Orthodox Jewish pop music, and for some reason, this grainy 2007 performance of “Yerushalayim” from Psalms 125:2 has established its own niche in the TikTok-sphere, with over 8 million views to its name.
Users young and old have deemed the four boys who sing in the TikTok clip as microcelebrities, to the point where the now-adult David Herskowitz (the third soloist, who is often ranked as the top singer in these videos) has accrued over 61,000 followers in just under two weeks. His first TikTok, posted on Aug. 19, has over 750,000 views, and that’s not even his highest-trending video; an updated version of him singing “Yerushalayim” boasts 4.1 million views. For lack of a more kosher exclamation: Jesus Christ.
To top all that off, it seems as if this trending boy group was made for me, as it hits on my other niche as a biracial Jewish second-generation Korean-American: K-Pop stan culture. People are claiming biases — I honestly would stan Binyomin, sue me — and recreating the choreography and engaging with the artists in what I can accurately refer to as quote-unquote “fan behavior.” They’ve even got an acronym like BTS or TVXQ! One commenter on the original MBC video referred to the genre of music as “K-Pop (kosher pop),” and I haven’t stopped laughing at the randomness of this phenomenon in public whenever I think about it a little too hard. Apologies to my professors: it’s not you, it’s the Miami Boys Choir fandom.
In classic reform Jewish fashion, I initially stayed on the outskirts of this trend: enjoying it from afar and appreciating its uplifting of my culture, but definitely not completely understanding it. After all, I chanted for my bat mitzvah! What’s the hype? However, I’m totally into it now. I’m ready to make photocards and learn a fanchant. There’s something that is just so compelling about kitschy-campy unabashedly passionate performances like these that makes the rise of MBC and similarly popular trends like Corn Kid make complete sense — especially in this dreary, pessimistic, semi-post-COVID time.
While I may seem like an Israel anti to some, these boys creating harmony through harmony with their love of their ancestral home, their faith, and each other really made me want to engage with their content and revisit my own connection to my religion. Herskowitz said it best in this NBC interview: “There’s so much hate out there and so much negativity and so much difference in the world, and seeing people unite and love something that is positive and pro-Israel and pro-Judaism, I think that was just so nice, and that really blew me away.”
In summation? Miami Boys Choir slayed boots.