Karl Zucker turns 90, still devoted to family, working for peace and seeking “the real truth”

By Terry Fear

A desire to seek truth, a love of knowledge, devotion to family — these qualities have driven Karl Zucker for the past 90 years and continue to reflect his philosophy of life.

Karl celebrated his 90th birthday on August 27, so it seems fitting we reacquaint ourselves with someone who has been a part of United Hebrew Congregation since 1964.

Aa Karl grew up in Cleveland, the Zucker family attended the Reform synagogue, Euclid Avenue Temple.

A close relationship with Unitarian neighbors

Karl recalls an interesting relationship between the Temple and the Unitarians. The Unitarian minister, whose church was across the street, was a close friend of the rabbi’s.

While speaking to Karl’s religious school class, the minister was asked the difference between the Unitarian church and Euclid Avenue Temple. He replied, “the biggest thing that separates us is Euclid Avenue!”

When he turned 8, Karl began broadening his life-experiences by attending a non-denominational camp each summer. At the camp, there were no “others” — only fellow campers, all eager to play together and thereby learn from each other.

Religious status as Jewish, Catholic or Protestant didn’t matter to these youngsters. No artificial barriers kept them separated or prevented them from having fun. These camp experiences would become seeds for Karl’s later research on “others.”

Karl credits his educational journey to his father’s willingness to send him to a university of Karl’s choosing.

The elder Mr. Zucker agreed with his son that Karl was people-oriented and not necessarily business-oriented.

A successful businessman, the elder Mr. Zucker agreed with his son that Karl was people-oriented and not necessarily business-oriented. After studying college brochures, Karl chose to attend the University of Chicago.

While at the university, Karl’s religious life and natural curiosity brought him to Life’s Big Question: “What is the real truth?”

Young Karl seeks answers

Karl and a friend attended nearby churches in an attempt at finding The Answer. Today, Karl reflects on his father’s nature as a “sensitive thinker” and believes this helped create his own thoughtful way of life.

Also equipped with a healthy dose of pragmatism, Karl graduated with a math degree even as he became interested in the analytical approach to psychology. He returned to Ohio, where he earned a masters degree in general psychology and a PhD in clinical psychology at Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve University) in Cleveland.

Allane and Karl Zucker with Walter Sommers.

Allane and Karl met during a Euclid Avenue Temple alumni association function while Karl was a graduate student.

After graduation, Karl accepted the position of chief clinical psychologist at the Youngstown Child Guidance Center. Rabbi Sydney Berkowitz, the first UHC member to be ordained, was board chair of the center.

Karl’s research, aimed at achieving positive interrelationships among individuals and nations, led him to develop the “other construct”.

Beginning in Youngstown, Karl’s research, aimed at achieving positive interrelationships among individuals and nations, led him to develop the “other construct”, a research tool that assessed how people view others.

This assessment was used to validate the effectiveness of a post-World War II program, Children’s International Summer Villages. Communities around the world selected 11-year-olds to meet in these international summer villages.

The premise of this program was simple: “Peace is possible only as individuals and groups learn to live as friends with one another.” Karl’s camping experiences, beginning in 1934 on the shores of Lake Erie, had already validated this premise for him.
.

Critical work with Indiana State University

Allane’s and Karl’s daughter Shani with husband Jonathan Goodall.

In 1964, Indiana State Teachers College (which soon became Indiana State University) invited Karl to join its faculty. Karl’s clinical child psychology background helped the psychology department at ISU obtain its accreditation from the American Psychological Association. This would allow ISU to offer a PhD in school psychology. The university was the second in the country to obtain that approval.

The challenge of a new position and the existence of a strong Jewish community in Terre Haute were the deciding factors in the Zuckers’s decision to move to Indiana.

Allane and Karl determined to enroll their young children, Yosef (Jeff, until he changed his name upon moving to Israel), Nelson and Shani in an active religious school. Allane, especially, immersed herself in UHC by teaching Hebrew and taking a leadership role in various committees and boards.

Notable achievements in career, community

Karl co-authored a book on child psychology.

Academic honors, published papers, co-authoring a book and memberships in professional organizations attest to Karl’s dedication to and success in psychology.

Evidence of his involvement in Jewish community life are his leadership roles in various Jewish organizations, including UHC president from 1995-97.

It was through Karl’s work volunteering as a docent at CANDLES Holocaust Museum that I met Karl several years ago. I was impressed with his thoughtful demeanor and the artful, articulate manner in which he spoke. A personable, approachable volunteer, Karl was obviously well-educated and well-read.

But it’s the story behind the “bull moose” photograph that I really appreciate.

The story Yossi tells is this — Allane and Karl were on their Canadian honeymoon. While hiking, they encountered a fully grown (and quite dangerous) moose.

The story Yossi tells is this — Allane and Karl were on their Canadian honeymoon. While hiking, they encountered a fully grown (and quite dangerous) moose.

Karl raised his camera and meticulously focused and centered the moose in the lens before snapping the picture. He was not alarmed at being so close to a potentially dangerous wild animal. Of course, had the creature charged, Allane could have returned home alone!

Karl attributes his survival to luck. But I firmly believe the key has been Karl’s steadfast faith that life is to be lived intentionally — in sharp focus and without hesitation.

Mazel tov, Karl, on your 90th birthday! May you continue to enjoy life while you ponder its meaning.

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of