Yael Biegon Citron is an Artistic Director and Dramaturge whose collaboration with Neve Schechter has brought the art world closer to Jewish culture in ways never before imagined
Yael Biegon Citron, 33, approaches every new challenge with the profound awe of an artist paired with the precision of a scientist. No wonder. Her father is a respected theatre professor and her mother, a world renowned brain scientist.
She entered the courtyard of Neve Schechter a few years ago with an idea for a partnership, and from that moment on, the life of one of Tel Aviv’s foremost venues for Jewish culture and the arts has been inestimably enriched.
The “Write Club” – a concept Yael imported from Atlanta to Tel Aviv – pairs six writers who duel over two opposing words in texts they have prepared before the event. “For Tisha B’av, we designed a word duel that paired the words “justice” and “law.” For that live Facebook event, we attracted 3,500 participants!” Yael proudly shares.
Soon after the “Write Club,” Yael teamed up with Neve Schechter to create “Zarkor” (“spotlight” in Hebrew), which invited musicians, actors, plastic artists, even medical clowns, to partner with Jewish studies scholars, asking the scholars to critique the art from their discipline’s perspective. This dialogue resulted in six films that garnered 8,000 YouTube views over six nights of Hanukkah. “In the darkness of the solstice and the pandemic, we were shining light on creation and knowledge,” says Yael.
What Yael is most excited about these days is the Artists’ Incubator Program that she directs at Neve Schechter. “Artists need a sense of community, and once out in the real world, it can be a very lonely life, especially during this year of Covid-19, when almost all venues of expression were closed off. We are providing a home with space to play, create and learn from each other.” The “value added” is the Jewish bookshelf. The artists come to study in Neve Schechter’s Bet Midrash twice a month. “You can actually feel the electricity in the air as each Ḥavruta dissects the texts.” Neve Schechter hopes to expand the program in 2022 by incorporating its artists’ incubator into a global net of Jewish artists that will learn together.
“What I love about Neve Schechter is that I was not forced to study Judaism, rather, I was invited to join a cultural dialogue that’s been evolving for thousands of years. As an artist passionately curious about the arts, the experience becomes much more nuanced and rich,” Yael explains.