Unexpected Gift

In the tradition of the Jews from Arab and Muslim countries, called Edot HaMizrach, a piyyut (liturgical poem) is added to the evening service of Rosh Hashanah, called Achot Ketanah (Little Sister). The refrain that ends each stanza of the poem reads “The year and its curses is complete” until the last one when the text is changed to “The year and its blessings begins”. It’s wonderful to think that we can close the book on 5782 and put away all of the hardship and challenges we faced the preceding 13 months (it was a leap year) as we look forward to all of the opportunities and good things we can expect in 5783. 

Sometimes these blessings come from unexpected corners of the world. This week a 28-year-old video of Jewish boys singing about Jerusalem and God’s protection went viral on Tiktok. Why? Who knows, but as the old saying goes, why look a gift horse in the mouth. Just embrace the gift of beautiful singing that has captured the imaginations of millions of young people, Jewish or not. 

If you are not familiar, the Miami Boys Choir is a group of Orthodox young men who sing pop versions of Jewish music. They have been around for decades and recently a clip of their song “Yerushalayim” made it to the video sharing app Tiktok where users have rated the quality of the four singers with solos. I dare you to watch the video and keep the catchy tune out of your head. 

Millions of users have clearly been smitten by the youthful enthusiasm of “Yerushalayim”, especially the way the brief clip builds to an unexpected high point. Virtually all of the viewers on Tiktok have no idea the meaning of the song, which comes from Psalm 125:2, translates to “Jerusalem, hills enfold it and the LORD enfolds His people now and forever.” Just as the geography of the holy city offers protection, so does God for the Jewish people. 

In a time when we need all the blessings we can get, the “Yerushalayim” mini-craze is a gift. Millions of non-Jews dancing to the sounds of exuberant children singing ancient words connecting the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and God’s concern. Who could ask for more? May the coming year continue to offer these kinds of blessings where we least expect them. L’shanah Tovah U’Metukah – to a good and sweet New Year! 

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