Mitsui (מיצוי – Ancient Aramaic): the seeking out, extracting, or revealing of potential.
‘וַיִּקַּח֙ סֵ֣פֶר הַבְּרִ֔ית וַיִּקְרָ֖א בְּאָזְנֵ֣י הָעָ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ כֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר הAnd he [Moses] took the book of the covenant, and spoke it to the ears of the people; and they said: ‘All that the Eternal has spoken
we will do, and we will understand.’
Embodied Jewish practice and experiential education are at the heart of Mitsui Collective’s work. From immersive nature experiences to movement workshops, food programs, and even text-based learning sessions, we strive to bring embodied experience to all our work and programs.
The word mitsui is Aramaic for the “activation of potential.” Our programs and learning begin with a metaphorical seed (sometimes literally, in the case of farm & garden education) ready to be activated through embodied learning.
We believe that deep learning and understanding come through guided and embodied experience. Whenever possible, our programs center this embodiment learning first and foremost.
This methodology stems from our earliest experiences as the Jewish people, experiencing what must have been a mindblowing embodied experience during the Revelation of Torah at Mount Sinai. At this time, given the Torah and its blueprint for Jewish living, we responded na’aseh v’nishmah — we will do, and [then] we will understand. Our friend, colleague, and mentor Nigel Savage, founder of Hazon, often remarks that this phrase is at the heart of experiential Jewish education. First we do, we act, we experience. And it is through that doing that we come to learn and understand.
And yet, the understanding is not the final destination.
Jewish tradition describes humankind as being made b’tzelem elohim — in the image of the divine. We understand ourselves as co-creators of the world, a relationship at the heart of one of our most ancient symbols and blessings: the braided challah loaf, descended from the showbread of the Mishkan (Temple), and its accompanying blessing, HaMotzi. A common teaching for HaMotzi in the world of Jewish Outdoor, Food/Farming & Environmental Education (JOFEE) speaks to the co-creative element of making bread and saying HaMotzi. Bread does not grow on trees and requires human labor and ingenuity to fashion flour and dough from seed; yet it requires the divine provenance necessary to grow a fruitful and abundant harvest.
It is no coincidence that Motzi, which translates to “brings forth,” shares the same root as Mitsui.
Whether through bread, through community building, through song and ritual, or through activating our human potential for physical movement expression, Mitsui Collective’s methods peak with Yetzirah: the mystical co-creation of something a little bit magical in a world that needs as much magic as possible.
Teacher and Mentor Acknowledgement
The teachings and methods at the heart of Mitsui Collective are informed and inspired by a multitude of cherished teachers and mentors. Here are some of those to whom we owe gratitude for sharing their teaching & learning, whether in person, and/or through their writings and publications:
- Ido Portal — movement researcher, practitioner, teacher
- Ilana Kaufman — JOC leader, mentor & teacher
- Rabbi Jacob Izakson — Rabbi, mentor, teacher
- Katy Bowman, Nutritious Movement — biomechanist, natural movement practitioner, author
- Professor Kelly Diane Cook — Landscape architecture researcher, theorist, teacher, and graduate advisor and mentor
- Kyle Fincham, Movement Brooklyn — movement teacher, friend, colleague
- Nigel Savage, Hazon — JOFEE leader, teacher, mentor
- Nili Simhai — mentor, teacher, Jewish nature educator & JOFEE leader
- Ajarn Roy Harrington, 8th degree (Professor level) Blackbelt, Lotus Kajukenbo — mentor & teacher
- Yavilah McCoy — JOC leader, mentor & teacher
- Zack Finer, ApeCo Movement School (formerly Boulder Movement Collective) — brother, movement teacher, Ido Portal mentorship student
- Rabbi Zelig Golden, Wilderness Torah — mentor & teacher