Letters: Heaps of Hillel Memories

Thank you for your article on the new Hillel building [“Hillel Encapsulated,” Winter 2009].

I have fond memories of Hillel. I came to the UW as a freshman in 1957 and gravitated to Hillel to start my social and religious life. I made several lifelong Jewish friends from that freshman year, and also met my girlfriend and later my wife through Sherman Ansel, who was a fixture at Hillel, in the 1950s and ’60s.

The new building looks much larger, and hopefully will give many Jewish students there today a lifetime of friends.

Peter Hirsch ’61, MS’63, PhD’66 Cupertino, California

In addition to its spiritual ministry and service to the Madison Jewish community, Hillel was an important space for the entire campus community in its sponsorship of live music and dance performance during my years at UW in the early sixties. [It inspired a] great gathering of new artists and enthusiastic audiences.

Chuck Kleinhans ’64 Eugene, Oregon

I appreciated the story on Hillel and its role in the growth of Jewish life at the UW. I was a graduate student in political science from 1949–52. As newlyweds fresh out of Brooklyn, my wife and I visited the State Street walkup, where we were greeted by the exuberant Rabbi Max Ticktin, who provided both solace and advice on life in Madison.

Professor of economics Selig Perlman is mentioned twice in the article, stirring a strong recollection of a program at Hillel for graduate students featuring Perlman on the subject of Jews in academe. Perlman told the group that, as Jews, they would never become department chairmen, deans, vice presidents, or presidents, due to anti-Semitism being alive and well in universities. Unfortunately, he did not live to witness the numerous Jewish academics who assumed leadership roles throughout the academic world decades later, including numerous Jewish presidents at Ivy League schools.

Milton Greenberg PhD’55 Washington, D.C.

Don’t Quote Us

My apologies for zeroing in on what is certainly the most insignificant of all the Badger words of wisdom compiled (“Houston, We’ve Had a Problem,” Winter 2009) in which the cryptic phraseology of Steve Miller’s line in his hit “The Joker” (“’Cause I speak of the pompatus of love”) has been endlessly speculated upon.

The answer has actually been deciphered by humorist Dave Barry: simply put, the word isn’t a derivation of anything. He made it up. That’s why some people call him the Space Cowboy.

Elizabeth Strand-Nevin ’90 Elkhorn, Wisconsin

Your repeated use of the word “quote” in your article on famous sayings from Wisconsin alumni brought to mind a fond memory of Professor John M. Cooper’s senior history seminar, in which he would shout “quotation!” when any presenter was unfortunate enough to use the word “quote” as a noun.

Thank you, Professor Cooper, for insisting that your students use words correctly in both written and oral presentations. That attention to detail has paid off in my professional life!

Rachel Gavelek Konkle ’98 Kenosha, Wisconsin

Published in the Spring 2010 issue

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