With deep regret and in affection and respect, the Society for Classical Reform Judaism announces the recent passing of our Founding Board Member and Benefactor, Edward M. Ackerman.Edward M. Ackerman, born July 23, 1928, in Dallas, TX, passed away peacefully at home on Saturday, October 1, 2016, surrounded by his family. He is predeceased by his wife Helma Ackerman and is survived by his children Paula Ackerman Menendez (Douglas), David Ackerman (Caroline), Samantha Ackerman Simons, and Eddie Ackerman (Beth); his grandchildren Phillip, Emma and Lilly Simons, Reid and Owen Ackerman, and Sam and Sarah Menendez; and his niece Vicki Berler Pepper (Ken).
Ed was a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School and the University of Texas. He served as a lieutenant in the Air Force, stationed in Japan during the Korean War. Following his military service, Ed did post-graduate study in finance at New York University before joining Salomon Brothers, and later returning to Dallas as their regional manager. Ed founded Ackerman Associates, L.P., Dallas’ first hedge fund, in 1969 and compiled an impressive track record of investment success until his retirement in 2007. He is also the founder of Ackerman Capital Management, an investment advisory firm that continues to thrive today.
As a philanthropist, Ed had a significant impact throughout the Dallas community. Much of his time and resources were dedicated to the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Foundation, Temple Emanu-El, the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, the Dallas Holocaust Museum, Hebrew Union College, and, pre-eminently, the Society for Classical Reform Judaism.
As a faithful Jew, Ed was deeply committed to the Classical Reform tradition, and had long been an advocate for its perpetuation at his home congregation, Temple Emanu-El of Dallas. Along with fellow SCRJ Founder, Max Tonkon, he organized the Friends of Classical Reform, which fostered regular worship Services from the Union Prayer Book, accompanied by the great choral repertoire of American Reform. When the Society was founded in 2008 to advocate for this vision on a national basis, Ed Ackerman was one of its organizers, and remained an active member of its Board of Trustees until his death. He early on became the major benefactor of our work, both with ongoing support for our operations and programs, as well as the many special projects the Society has so successfully initiated. His broad, creative vision embraced our goal of fostering a meaningful encounter with our Reform heritage by the new generation of rabbis and leaders of our Movement, through our work with Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Beginning with our seminars and institutes at the historic Cincinnati campus in 2009, Ed’s support made continuing expansion possible, establishing the Society as a regular presence at the College’s Jerusalem and Los Angeles centers as well. His generous support culminated in the establishment of the Ackerman Professorship for American Jewish History and Reform Judaism at HUC in 2014. In addition, Ed supported the Society’s partnership with Har-El Congregation of Jerusalem, Israel’s pioneer Reform synagogue, and sponsored the publication of our contemporary revision of The New Union Haggadah by the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Ed’s dedication to the work of the Society and its mission of preserving and renewing our Reform heritage will now be perpetuated by the Ackerman Foundation for Classical Reform Judaism, which will provide ongoing support for our work into the future.