With a bachelor of arts in culture, the Israeli Consulate General’s new director of cultural affairs, Yael Nehushtai, believes that she has found the perfect opportunity for her background and skills.
“I’ve always loved culture and everything related to it. It’s not only the face of a country, but also its heart,” Nehushtai said about what attracted her to the opening at the consulate in Midtown. “You can learn so much about a place by looking at its culture.”
While living in Kidron, Nehushtai obtained her master’s in literature and worked in a bookstore and a television satellite company until she moved to the United States, where she learned about and applied for position. She succeeded Yonit Stern.
Despite having little time to adjust to her new role, however, Nehushtai has begun planning various programs throughout the Southeast to generate greater awareness about Israeli culture and arts.
In addition to organizing festivities throughout the Southeast, Nehushtai is supporting the Nashville Jewish Film Festival, scheduled for Oct. 17 through Nov. 11, and the Book Festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center, set for Nov. 4 to 20, which includes Israeli author Michael Bar-Zohar speaking about his re-edited book “Phoenix: Shimon Peres and the Secret History of Israel” on Sunday, Nov. 12.
Nehushtai brings knowledge of Israeli culture, film, theater, literature and the arts and experience in event planning to the consulate.
“I was taught to examine culture in a critical manner and look at it differently,” said Nehushtai, who considers herself a big fan of watching movies and reading books.
She is working with the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival and with the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, for which she hopes to bring an Israeli chef for the opening gala, and is sponsoring the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s performance “Horses in the Sky” on Tuesday, Oct. 24, at Kennesaw State University, whose dance department has been involved in the planning.
Moving ahead, Nehushtai hopes to promote additional programs throughout the consulate’s Southeastern region, including Tennessee, South Carolina and West Virginia.
“We look forward to expanding and bringing Israeli culture to as many states we can,” Nehushtai said about her determination to enhance American-Israeli collaborations. “We want to show the world how important Israeli culture is.”
Nehushtai looks forward to collaborating with the Breman Museum, Core Dance Company, Spoleto Festival, American Dance Festival, 7 Stages Theatre and the Rialto Center for the Arts. She also hopes to provide greater attention to Israeli artists and female singers who are often overlooked or live in Israeli’s periphery, such as Jane Bordeaux.
“We don’t want to bring individuals people already know, but rather common jazz artists and theater groups Americans have yet to be exposed to,” Nehushtai said. She cited artists such as Ofir Nahari, who is scheduled to return to 7 Stages for a performance in January.
She said the consulate’s budget is an issue as she plans events in as many states as possible.
“I think it’s easy to focus on Atlanta because it’s so huge and has its own culture, but I also think it’s important to bring Israeli culture to places which have never been introduced to an Israeli film or musician,” she said.
Nevertheless, Nehushtai remains committed to bringing greater awareness to Israeli culture.
“I have an amazing team I work with and can always rely on our office in New York, which contains countless individuals who are masters within their fields,” she said.
She also works with Israel’s Ministry of Culture and Sport, which often informs her of new and upcoming artists.
“I would love to hear from anyone who is really interested in Israeli culture and will try my best to accommodate everyone who wishes to learn more,” Nehushtai said. “I want to reach as many Americans as I can with the hope of incorporating as many Israeli artists within local venues and festivals.”