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Orthodox Jewish beatboxers compete on 'America's Got Talent'

Posted July 23

Ilan Swartz-Brownstein and Joshua Shlomo Mendel Leviton confused judges and audiences members when they first walked out onto the "America's Got Talent" stage. Wearing yarmulkes and other traditional Orthodox Jewish garb, they didn't look like the typical performer.

"We probably look like we were going to pray, or have a Talmudic debate. They don't expect we're going to beatbox," Swartz-Brownstein said to The Oregonian.

When they began their performance, the room erupted.

Ilan and Josh, as the duo calls themselves, will soon compete in the show's second round. The two young men are the latest example of faithful people taking reality television by storm.

Sister Alicia Torres, a 30-year-old from Chicago, was recently crowned "Chopped" champion. And another nun won "Master Chef Mexico" last fall, as the Deseret News reported in November.

Ilan and Josh were open about their Orthodox Jewish faith while chatting with judges before their first performance.

"We were both in Israel at the same time and we met at the Western Wall, which is the holiest place in the Jewish tradition," Swartz-Brownstein said.

Leviton, who calls himself "The Orthobox," had already established somewhat of a reputation for himself as a performer, and Swartz-Brownstein was a fan, The Oregonian reported. The pair stayed in touch and decided to audition for "America's Got Talent" together in November 2015.

Around 1.5 percent of U.S. adults identify as Jewish, and 10 percent of these Americans are Orthodox, according to Pew Research Center.

Swartz-Brownstein told The Oregonian that he's thankful for the opportunity to showcase his faith for a national audience.

"It's been amazing," he said. "People are saying how awesome it was to see us on (TV) and how it makes them proud to be Jewish."

Email: kdallas@deseretnews.com Twitter: @kelsey_dallas

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