In the last couple months, the Miami Boys Choir—a pop group comprising Orthodox Jewish kids that’s been around since the 1970s—began inexplicably trending on TikTok. Since mid-August, every video uploaded has been heard more than 100,000 times; often that number is over a million, or close to it. But the reasoning behind the sudden fame is harder to discern. Are teenagers actually getting into Orthodox pop? Or is this just an ironic fad destined to fade by Hanukkah?
The hosts at Bonjour Chai wanted to dig deeper. They learned the choir actually has roots in Canada, when director Yerachmiel Begun was studying in a yeshiva in Toronto and produced three albums with what was then called the Toronto Boys Choir. He subsequently moved to Miami, formed a choir there and began releasing albums under that title—even after eventually settling in New York. The group has since become a powerhouse in Jewish music, releasing a string of hits over the years and launching the careers of many Jewish singers.
The hosts dissect the trend among themselves, then invite on Mordechai Levovitz, a singer in the choir who wound up on Broadway and is now the clinical director for JQY, an organization that supports and empowers Jewish queer youth.
After that, by popular demand, you’ll hear more contributions to our Sermon Slam, this time from Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, Rabbi Josh Schwartz, Rabbi Dan Moskovitz, Rabbi Ilana Krygier Lapides and Rabbi Shalom Schachter.
Bonjour Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold, Ilana Zackon and David Sklar. Zachary Kauffman is the producer and editor. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Socalled. The show is a co-production from The Jewish Learning Lab and The CJN, and is distributed by The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.