Under the creative direction of Edward Jacobs, Edward Jacobs Design (formerly known as Mishkenot Ltd) provides innovative and creative solutions for a variety of projects and meaningful endeavors.
Edward Jacobs Design is a creative design studio whose work focuses on spiritual and educational undertakings including synagogue design, exhibition and concept design, memorial and commemoration design, communication architecture, industrial design, and graphic arts. The company’s main studio is located just outside of Jerusalem.
Along with the actual design articulation of an entire project, Edward Jacobs Design is also intimately involved with the administrative processes necessary to see a project through to fruition. The first step is a phased approach commencing with the composition of an initial program document or executive summary elucidating the following areas of concern:
- A fully realized programmatic description of the needs and desires of the community, compiled in conjunction with the synagogue board
- An accurate zoning summary of the desired property
- Potential impact statements necessary to prepare for inevitable neighborhood and municipal conflicts
- Gross budgetary estimates for various building options, according to proposed ideas
- General design description that includes contextual directions, proposed building materials, and overall vision for the property
- General fundraising strategy in concert with the synagogue board
- Proposed overall schedule for project
The programmatic aspect of this report is done in concert with a local architect, who would be appointed architect of record for the project.
Other professionals necessary for the completion of this initial stage include:
- A local expeditor and/or legal counsel, who assists the project team in accurately defining zoning parameters of the new property, allowing us to make the most practical planning decisions
- Local contractor, who would assist us in creating non-binding but reasonable gross budgetary projections based on standardized construction costs, allowing us to make practical building considerations for the proposed property
After the executive summary is completed, contents are found reasonable, and challenges are found operable, the community will decide to proceed to the next phase of work with Edward Jacobs Design. This next phase would cover continued work with the architect on architectural design of the building, interior design, and complete Judaica design for all aspects of the project. This resulting document would be a complete presentation tool with all necessary renderings and visualizations for the proposed project. Further, all initial pro-forma financial documents would be included so that a coherent fundraising plan can then be drafted.
In short, Edward Jacobs Design’s specialty is providing a complete articulation of project vision, definition, scope, and inspiring design for the institutional client. As creative director, Edward Jacobs then devises stimulating and exhilarating presentations which convey the essence of the project and engender excitement and participation. Invariably, these presentations form the backbone of the fundraising efforts of which Edward Jacobs Design is a fundamental component. Jacobs then works with the stakeholders and other professionals to define the fundraising methodologies and to create the necessary plans and products to ensure a successful fundraising plan.
Museums and Memorials
These are some of the questions that Edward Jacobs Design contends with when designing a museum exhibition. Along with founder Dr. Michael Berenbaum, The Berenbaum Group (through which Edward Jacobs Designs works on museum projects) brings unparalleled expertise in museum exhibition design, memorial conception, the creation of historical films and the development of innovative and unique approaches to presenting the Jewish experience and understanding the nature of the Holocaust, persecution and genocide.
A Philosophic Approach to the Creation of the Museum
Both The Berenbaum Group and Edward Jacobs Design agree that a museum must primarily be a storytelling institution. Unlike most artifact-centered historical museums, which tell the stories of the artifacts they possess, a museum — both in design and exhibition — must be driven by the story as integrated into the ethos of contemporary society. It is on the basis of the story that artifacts should be collected and exhibited, that photographs should be gathered and displayed, and that diverse media — film, video, narrative tale, text, design and atmosphere — should be chosen.
The museum must address all audiences. The exhibition must resonate with all its visitors, regardless of identity and ethnic or racial background. It must be at one with its location, with its era, and it must include all of the issues besetting its particular locale.
The design must reflect the various stages of the story being told. The materials must serve as aids to storytelling, and the media must serve as aids to the visitors’ experience. A visitor should be touched by the content he or she sees, not distracted by the mode of presentation. From the design of the building and the permanent exhibition, to the experience of the visitor and the “feel” of the place, the key is to provide an integrative experience.
The goal is to layer the information and create an exhibition that is intellectually informative and emotionally compelling. Today, few people take the time to read words on a wall while they walk through exhibition spaces, because a museum is not an encyclopedia. As a museum must provide information on multiple levels, the final presentation must be an experience that can engage the casual visitor and also inform the more informed visitor.
We are profoundly committed to portraying the particularity of the Holocaust as an event of great specificity and importance; it is the paradigm for genocide, but its universal applicability is of equal importance. The Holocaust is a Jewish story, but it is also a human story due to the individualized and collective experiences of the people who lived through the atrocities. In television and movies, in novels and the daily newspaper, audiences routinely encounter human stories of diverse, and even distant, cultural content. The more appealing the human story is, the more readily cultural differences can be bridged and the particularity of the experience understood.
Any good museum has multiple messages that result from the interplay between the visitors and the events presented. We avoid trivialization and vulgarization; we also seek to avoid propagandizing the experience toward a particular political value or viewpoint, no matter how important that viewpoint is.
We follow the principle of localization, especially with regard to our presentation of the Shoah. To achieve this, we use testimony from survivors who have made their homes in the specific locale of the museum. First and foremost, these testimonies strongly resonate with the local visitors. Secondly, the survivors have a unique story to tell, that will now be anchored in their community. For many, this community has served as the final stop in a long journey.
We believe that the Shoah was a unique event in human history. However, we seek to portray the Shoah as the paradigmatic genocide so that the tragedy speaks to other genocidal events and events of mass murder, as well as other significant violations to human rights and human dignity.
To compare two events is not to suggest that they are the same or equivalent, but to emphasize what they have in common and how they differ. Comparing it to and distinguishing it from other genocides can only demonstrate the uniqueness and unprecedented nature of the Holocaust. One can discuss the objective experience of discrimination, persecution and destruction, or even the mechanism of mass murder, as long as we respect that experience and do not denigrate or demean the other.
Long before working on synagogue and museum commissions, Edward Jacobs Design created Judaica. A natural outgrowth of the years Edward Jacobs spent learning in Yeshiva, Judaica allowed Jacobs to combine his natural design and fabrication talents with his Judaic studies. This resulted in the production of unique pieces now found in several museums as well as private collections around the world. Over the years, Edward Jacobs Design has fulfilled commissions for private clients desiring a custom work, or a series of Judaica elements as gifts for family and friends. The company also has designed several Judaica items derived from some of its iconic synagogue projects, as fundraising vehicles for the institution. Jacobs also has created meaningful donor and special recognition gifts for various clients in both America and Israel.
Edward Jacobs Design’s Judaica projects are based on a three-fold philosophy:
- The object must be functionally suited for its purpose
- It must meet the exacting and detailed requirements of Halacha/Jewish law
- The spiritual nature of the object must dictate its physical form
By working within these parameters, Edward Jacobs Design is fulfilling the mandate of Rav Kook: Make the old, new - and make the new, sanctified.