Groundbreaking new culinary institute in Israel announces opening date: May 7

A first-of-its-kind educational center in Israel’s north will bring jobs and growth to the Galilee while sparking global conversations about food.

Rendering of the Galilee Culinary Institute in the Greater Kiryat Shmona Region in northern Israel. Credit: Totem ©Openmind Art.
Rendering of the Galilee Culinary Institute in the Greater Kiryat Shmona Region in northern Israel. Credit: Totem ©Openmind Art.

The Galilee Culinary Institute by JNF (GCI by JNF) will officially open its doors on May 7, 2024. Located in the Greater Kiryat Shmona Region—Israel’s northernmost point—the first-of-its-kind institution will enable a new generation of students to experience the region’s rich melting pot of culinary traditions while providing a syllabus that sets it apart from other schools.

“Israel’s Galilee region is home to more than 80 unique cultures,” explained Jewish National Fund-USA World Chairman’s Council Ambassador Steve Rosenfield. “Where else in the world can you learn about Ethiopian and Druze food in the morning, Lebanese cooking in the afternoon and Jewish Sephardic cuisines from North Africa in the evening? GCI by JNF will mark a new era in culinary education, yet it will also bring transformational economic development to Israel’s north thanks to the jobs and tourism it will attract.”

“You learn about wine from the vineyard, bread from the wheatfields and fruit from the orchards, not from a book or video.” — GCI by JNF CEO Nathan Hoffman

Further emphasizing the institute’s positive economic impact, Rosenfield added that “the Upper Eastern Galilee has been out of the spotlight for too long because of the complicated economic and security situation. Through Jewish National Fund-USA’s philanthropic investments in the region, we are adding new housing sites, a new medical center, a food technology center and a food incubator in addition to GCI by JNF.”

GCI by JNF CEO Nathan Hoffman echoed Rosenfield’s excitement, saying “the opening of the school means everything to me.”

He said “I’ve been waiting for this day since I started in May 2019. To me, this solidifies everything and provides a timeline for executing our strategic plan.”

Housed within GCI by JNF, the Rosenfield School of Culinary Arts will welcome students from around the world with plans underway to also offer shorter culinary programs for tourists and locals.

Rendering of the Galilee Culinary Institute in the Greater Kiryat Shmona Region in northern Israel. Credit: Totem ©Openmind Art.

“It’s always incredible to see a vision evolve into reality,” said GCI by JNF Chief Culinary Officer and co-founder, Lior Lev Sercarz. “The opening of our institution will be a watershed moment for Israel’s north, yet it will also mark a new chapter in how our industry approaches culinary education as our impact is felt around the globe.”

“I am so proud to see our game-changing initiative come to fruition,” added GCI by JNF chair and co-chair of the Go North East Task Force, Sheryl Buchholtz. “In everything we do at Jewish National Fund-USA, we always ask, ‘What’s the Return on Investment (ROI) for the people of Israel?’ Projects like GCI by JNF help change the narrative in previously underserved places like Kiryat Shmona. We are bringing jobs and tourism to the region, yet most importantly, we are creating hope and a reason for the next generation to stay and develop their communities.”

Regarding the institute’s target demographic, Hoffman said that “we are looking to attract the next generation of culinary leaders. Many places accept anyone who can pay. However, we will focus on engaging students with the most passion, promise and potential.”

GCI chief culinary officer and co-founder Lior Lev Sercarz. Credit: JNF-USA.

GCI by JNF will differentiate itself from other institutions by focusing on transforming culinary education. While most institutes strictly focus on the kitchen, with students usually learning about their workstations and how to use the different kitchen supplies on “day one,” GCI’s students will first start on the farm. They will see where food comes from with the Institute’s experiential approach to learning.

Noted Hoffman: “You learn about wine from the vineyard, bread from the wheatfields and fruit from the orchards, not from a book or video.”

For more information or to apply, see: galileeculinaryinstitute.org.

For philanthropic opportunities, visit: my.jnf.org/gci or contact Michael Feinman at: mfeinman@jnf.org (212-879-9305, Ext. 503).

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Jewish National Fund-USA builds a strong, vibrant future for the land and people of Israel through bold initiatives and Zionist education. As a leading philanthropic movement, the organization supports critical environmental and nation-building activities in Israel’s north and south as it develops new communities in the Negev and Galilee, connects the next generation to Israel, and creates infrastructure and programs that support ecology, people with disabilities, and heritage site preservation, all while running a fully accredited study abroad experience through its Alexander Muss High School in Israel.
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