In Memoriam of Professor Zeki Berk (1931 – 2019)

July 30, 2019

It was with great sadness to learn that Prof. Zeki Berk passed away in July 2019. Zeki Berk received his Dipl.-Ing. (1955) and MSc. (1957) degrees in Chemical Engineering from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and a PhD (1960) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA

During his professional career in Chemical Engineering and Food Engineering, he held positions at the Technion, MIT, ENSIA Massey, France and Tel-Hai Academy College, Israel. In addition, he held many key advisory roles in academia, governments institutions and industry, worldwide.

Being a skilled administrator, he was Vice-President for Research and then for Academic Affairs department at Technion and most impressively took the position of President of Tel-Hai Academy College at age 74 (2005-2012).

Among his many publications, his most well-known books are “Food Process Engineering and Technology (Food Science and Technology)” 1st, 2nd and 3rd editions were published in 2008, 2013 and 2018 respectively and Citrus Fruit Processing (2016).

Zeki and his wife Rita were regular attendees of the EFFoST- EFCE European PhD Workshops in Food Engineering and Technology, a highly competitive and interactive event. Zeki attended until 2018. His questions were usually a challenge for young scientists. This is exactly the spirit needed for high-quality scientific workshops with future leaders in the field.

Besides being a very knowledgeable scientist and engineer, Zeki was the most dedicated teacher I have met. The new generation of food engineers at the Technion told us that “Zeki taught us everything”, as he still taught in 2017.

I had the privilege to work with Zeki on an International Advisory Board for several years. He was a great listener (he most likely suffered often about what I said) and a man of few words. When he spoke we all listened and his questions would identify the core of any problem.

His commitment and dedication to his students and teaching were a central part of Zeki’s personality. He continued to teach until 2018 (age 87). Zeki kept joking that he would like to teach until his last day and that he most probably would be buried with chalk in his hand. On one occasion (2016), he told his doctor that he couldn’t be hospitalized as he had a lecture the next day. His daughter accompanied him to the class, and then took him directly to the hospital. Being of Turkish origin Zeki´s linguistic skills were most impressive and above all he was, what Prof. Sam Saguy described in his obituary “ein Mensch”, a most unique and gentle human being, mentor and teacher to all of us.

Zeki attended the 2018 EFFoST Congress in Nantes at age 87. The Israeli organizers of the EFFoST 2020 Conference at the Technion would like to dedicate this event to Prof. Zeki Berk. This might be an occasion for all of us to remember the “Mensch” Zeki Berk once again.

Dietrich Knorr
Berlin, 28 July 2019

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