Mitsui Design asks the question, What does place-based learning look like in the 21st century?, and applies it to Jewish learning through the lenses of landscape design, educational programming, and curriculum development. We suggest that the following components characterize a modern and innovative approach to Jewish education:
1. Relevant to diaspora life & community
2. Place-based: centered on local landscape & community
3. Grounded in tradition; Moving towards the future
4. Creates Jewish citizens & stewards of people, place, & community
Mitsui Design strengthens Jewish connections to nature through landscape design and community engagement.
Mitsui (מיצוי – Ancient Aramaic): the seeking out, extracting, or revealing of potential.
Similar to poesis (ποίησις – Ancient Greek): creation or production that is aimed at some end; deliberate creation through art.
In Heidegger’s framework: the process of "calling something into existence that was not there before;" "bringing-forth" or revealing – e.g. "the blooming of the blossom, the coming-out of a butterfly from a cocoon, the plummeting of a waterfall when the snow begins to melt."
Landscape design and education both contain mitsui at the heart of their intention – to bring forth the latent potential contained within the essence of a space or being. When combined, they are especially powerful.
Torah of Place (aka place-based Torah):
Renowned Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach commented that "The Torah is a commentary on the world, and the world is a commentary on Torah.” The Torah is seen by many as a living document: the creation of Torah knowledge and wisdom is alive, dynamic, and ongoing, reimagined and renewed by every subsequent generation of Jews.
Place-based Torah, (the Torah of Place), which might be considered a branch or offshoot of living Torah, is at the heart of Mitsui Design. Traditional Jewish learning is comprised of stories, knowledge, wisdom and insights based on our ancestors’ experiences and journeys through the cultures and landscapes of the ancient Middle East. If landscape can be understood to contain wisdom, how do we access this wisdom?
The answer: through developing a relationship to landscape similar to the ongoing study of written Torah, we can gain wisdom of the Earth that will both inform our Jewish learning and better enable our understanding of the world we inhabit. This is place-based Torah.
Watch our ELI Talk to learn more!
Community by Design: The Torah of Place