Re: Jewish Ackermans
I sympathize with you. Some relatives have indicated that my Ackermans are Jewish on my grandfather's side, but all I have are a couple of anecdotes about his family and ancestors. I don't know whether I'll ever find anything more, but I too am interested in Judaism and Jewish traditions. While it may sound irrational to some people, I do believe that a pull like you mention might have deeper roots. Not necessarily, though!
Like John said, Ackerman can also be just a plain old Germanic name. However, it's often a Jewish name. Check out www.jewishgen.org, go to Search and type Ackerman. It's not as common a Jewish name as Levy or Cohen, but not far behind... Also, go to the Jewish genealogy forum on this site, I posted a query there too and received many replies.
The only way you can find out if your Ackermans are Jewish is by searching. Your relatives may be as ignorant about the matter as you, if they have Jewish origins they might not want to talk about them, you might never find any records, and then, what can you do? Many of the Jews who emigrated to America did so to escape religious persecution and therefore wanted to forget all about their Judaism in their new country. Do you know where your ancestors came from? In any case I wish you good luck.
Funny thing, my grandmother's name is Helen as well, although she is not of Jewish origin (as far as I know!).
Sharon, I'd be interested in learning more about your plans to convert to Judaism. If you like, contact me directly at my email address.