The Heschel Center, which for years has been churning out graduates that achieve
environmental excellence, took home an award of its own for its 12-year-old
Environmental Fellows Program.
The program was one of seven organizations
and individuals to receive an Environmental Excellence Award, distributed along
with NIS 50,000 to each winner by Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan
and President Shimon Peres at a ceremony Sunday.
Aside from Heschel’s
category of “associations and organizations,” winners were chosen in the
“personalities,” “young entrepreneurs,” “volunteers,” “local government” and
“industrial and commercial” sectors.
Every academic year – except this
one, as the program is undergoing development – the Heschel Center for
Environmental Learning and Leadership selects about 20 midcareer fellows to
train together on sustainability issues on a weekly basis. The group members
tackle different issues together and explore their own personal projects,
hailing from a wide range of perspectives – social justice, industrial,
political, Arab, Jewish, male, female, North, South and Center, Jeremy Benstein,
associate director of the Heschel Center and director of the Fellows Program,
said. For the center, the opportunity to bring together a diverse range of
environmental leaders in a setting where they can merge their skills “through
interdisciplinary interaction” is key.
“In most recent years – including
this year – the leading candidates in the fields that this prize has been given
in are graduates of this program,” he said. “It’s become clear that this program
has become central to shaping to environmental work and promoting
The second winner of the “organizations” category this
year, non-profit group Eretz Carmel, boasts one such graduate as its founder –
Amiad Lapidot, according to Benstein.
Eretz Carmel began in 2004 in the
Moshav Kerem Maharal, when Lapidot went door-to-door to his neighbors,
distributing waste separation bins. His vision, which gradually expanded further
and further, became a model for the Environmental Protection Ministry’s own
“separation at source” program, which is currently being implemented in cities
and towns throughout the country. Staff members of Eretz Carmel’s plan and guide
waste separation efforts around the country, and their contributions have led to
the adaptation of such a system in over 17,000 individual households, according
to organization data.
Other prominent Heschel fellowship graduates
include MK Dov Henin (Hadash), MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), the Environmental
Protection Ministry’s deputy director-general for policy and planning, Galit
Cohen, executive director of the Life and Environment umbrella organization for
green groups, Naor Yerushalmi, and Noam Goldstein, vice president of Dead Sea
During its off-season this year, Heschel’s Environmental Fellows
program is undergoing a “research and development” phase, and among many other
projects is focusing on creating a better networking system for the 180 alumni
who have completed of their program.