Shabbat took on a special meaning for the Purdue Jewish community on Friday, Sept. 9 when Purdue University Hillel dedicated its sanctuary to the memory of Joseph F. and Miriam L. Ackerman. The dedication was made possible with the support of their son Jim Ackerman, a member of the Purdue class of 1947, and his wife, Lois.
More than 80 students, university officials and friends from the Jewish community in West Lafayette, Ind., gathered prior to the start of Shabbat services to unveil a plaque commemorating the Ackermans, which features the verse from Exodus 25:8, "Make for me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them." Dr. Robert Ringel, the chair of Purdue Hillel's rededication committee, Dean of Education Dean George Hynd and a representative from the Greater Lafayette Jewish community offered their best wishes and thanks to Jim Ackerman, a longtime supporter of the university.
Philip Schlossberg, the executive director of Purdue Hillel, was excited that so many students attended the dedication, which was very gratifying for Ackerman as well.
"It was very heartwarming for me to see all of these students, and he seemed very pleased with the turnout," Schlossberg said. "Seeing them with Jim demonstrated dor l'dor – it really was one generation to another."
According to Schlossberg, Ackerman, one of the pioneers of Indiana's cable television industry, spent time with students during dinner reminiscing about his days at Purdue in the 1940s, when there were "maybe 100 Jewish students on campus." Now Schlossberg estimates there are 650-700 Jewish students, with an active core of 100-125 whom he sees regularly at events, and it was an exciting night for them as well.
"We had not just chicken at dinner, but brisket, too," he laughed. "They were impressed with that."