Hy Bloom, who recorded hundreds of events for the City of Ottawa and for Ottawa’s Jewish community, died June 17 at age 96 and was remembered as a special friend and extraordinary community volunteer.
Born in Ottawa on July 15, 1921, Bloom was only eight years old when he built his first microphone. He went on to become a leading sound technician and a mentor to musicians and technicians from all over North America.
Bloom founded Soundmaster Bloom Sound Enterprises in his parents’ home in 1939 and became well known for designing and building innovative sound systems. He moved the business to Bank Street in the 1950s and then to MacLaren Street until 2011.
As a Jewish community volunteer, Bloom recorded countless events including public meetings, political visits, protests, military announcements, religious speeches, concerts, services and eulogies. His efforts were recognized in 2005 when the Jewish Community Council of Ottawa/Vaad Ha’Ir (now the Jewish Federation of Ottawa) presented Bloom with the Shem Tov Community Volunteer Award.
Bloom “possesses a veritable ‘historical society’ of his own… that is invaluable to ours and future generations,” wrote childhood friend Irving Aaron in his letter nominating Bloom for the award.
“Bloom’s personal archives will provide important primary sources for the understanding of who we are and how we have come to where we are today,” added Rabbi Arnold Fine, then spiritual leader of Agudath Israel Congregation, in a letter supporting the nomination.
“Hy played the most important role, preserving legacy for future generations,” Ruth Aaron told the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin after he passed away.
His Jewish community recordings, she said, are now in the Ottawa Jewish Archives.
Bloom never married and had no children of his own, but he developed a special relationship with a Vietnamese refugee family.
In 1980, Bloom met Chung Nguyen, who was newly arrived in Ottawa from Vietnam, and helped him adapt to his new country.
“In the beginning,” said Tu-Ann Takacs, Nguyen’s eldest daughter, “Hy and my father spoke with their hands because they had no common language.”
Later on, she said, “Hy advised my father on college courses and how to find a job, and guided him through the sponsorship process to bring us to Canada.”
Takacs said Bloom became “Uncle Hy” to her and her sister. She would often accompany him to services at Agudath Israel Congregation.