Howie Bromberg ’70 uses music to make Jewish traditions and culture accessible to the next generation of Bryant Hillel students. The former CEO of Benny’s, Inc. fell in love with guitar in high school during the rock-and-roll era of the 1960’s and has been playing ever since. Today, Bromberg can often be found at Bryant’s Hillel celebrations, teaching traditional prayers set to new melodies.
Bromberg, who recently celebrated his 50th reunion, is an active alumni member of the Bryant Council for Jewish Life and Culture, and his dedication to Bryant Hillel was recently celebrated with a special service award. Bryant Hillel’s mission resonates deeply with Bromberg. “Many of these kids may not come from a strong Jewish background, so Hillel is a link with their heritage,” said Bromberg who enjoys teaching students traditional prayers like “Shalom Aleichem,” “Lecha Dodi,” “Oseh Shalom,” and “Adon Olam” set to upbeat Israeli and American rock and roll music. Teaching students gives him a special opportunity to keep his love of guitar alive. He quips that “if it wasn’t for playing this stuff, I probably wouldn’t play my guitar much!”
Rabbi Steven Jablow, director of Bryant Hillel, appreciates the impact of Bromberg’s dedication to the University’s Jewish community. The two have a connection that predates Jablow’s appointment to Bryant, both being fixtures of the greater Providence Jewish community for thirty years.
Speaking to Bromberg’s impact on students, Jablow considers Bromberg “an ambassador for Jewish life and culture” who loves getting to know students and hearing about their Bryant experiences. He recounts a particular moment where Bromberg helped welcome a prospective student attending Shabbat services during a campus visit, a touching interaction where Bromberg “engaged with someone at such a different stage of life, but connected over Bryant and, in particular, Jewish life at Bryant.”
Jake Cooper ’22, president of Bryant Hillel, speaks to the uplifting spirit and positivity that Bromberg’s participation and musical gifts bring to Shabbat and High Holiday services. “I have enjoyed our nights with Howie greatly over my years at Bryant and will think fondly of these memories for years to come.”
Jablow echoes how important Bromberg’s efforts have been, touching on his philanthropic generosity. “He has helped alleviate any potential financial stress due to COVID. He allowed Hillel to make the most of our opportunities during the pandemic.” Bryant’s Jewish community and Hillel organization have thrived in recent years, and this is in no small part due to Bromberg’s generosity – through his gifts of mentorship and music.