Health and Sustainability: A Heschel Center Course in Haifa and the Krayot

By Dr. Jeremy Benstein

In an innovative partnership, the Heschel Center has joined forces with the Center for Health Leadership, under the leadership of Uri Meir Cizik, to teach a course in sustainability and leadership in Haifa and the Krayot (the towns around Haifa), which began this week in the Beit Nagler community center in Kiryat Haim.

This course is different from other Heschel Center offerings in several ways. First, the origin of the course is actually in a court order, against polluting bodies in Haifa, which included a fine that provided for a public service training course to promote health and sustainability in the area. The Heschel Center was not involved in the suit, but as we are Israel’s leading sustainability training body, we were invited to design and facilitate the course. Second, as part of the agreement, the opportunity arose to work with Uri, and profit from his deep knowledge and significant expertise in the history of food and nutrition, and most importantly: the way to sustainable food today.

Third, this is one of the few courses of the Heschel Center whose participants come from the general public. We advertised broadly to residents and activists in Haifa and the surrounding Krayot – and there was an astounding response. Out of over 30 applicants, we selected an impressive group of 22 participants, with a broad diversity of age (from 25 to 70), professions and arenas of activity. The overall goal of the course is to provide the tools and the knowledge, and the connections with one another, in order to be effective agents for long-term social-environmental change, both professional and voluntary, according to the participants’ decisions.

The course lasts from the end of October until the middle of January, once a week, and will include familiarity with the core ideas of sustainability and public health, aspects of sustainable food, local sustainable economies, social entrepreneurship, and more, as well as excursions around the themes of air pollution in Haifa Bay, communal gardens, and (even) foraging in the fields and groves of Ramot Menasheh.