Our Teachers

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Sheva Zucker

Dr. Sheva Zucker served as the executive director of the League for Yiddish and the editor of its magazine “Afn Shvel” from 2005 to 2020. She has taught and lectured on Yiddish language, literature and culture on five continents and has taught Yiddish for many years in the Uriel Weinreich Program in Yiddish Language, Literature and Culture, currently under the auspices of Bard College and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City. She is the author of the textbooks “Yiddish: An Introduction to the Language, Literature & Culture”, Vols. I & II. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on The Emergence of the Modern Women in Yiddish and Western Literature. Her research and translations focus mostly on women in Yiddish literature. She was, for several years, the Translation Editor of the Pakn Treger, the magazine of the National Yiddish Book Center. From 2012 to 2014 she published a blog, “Candles of Song: Yiddish Poems about Mothers.”


Cindy Paley

Cindy has served as the Music Educator at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California since 1977. After receiving her teaching credentials at UCLA, she chose to devote her career to song leading and music as a Jewish educator. In addition to her recordings and family concerts, Cindy often serves as a cantorial soloist and is currently involved in creative prayer services for women. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Herzel, and three wonderful children.

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Elizabeth Schwartz

She  is a renowned klezmer vocalist, specializing in the Romanian tradition. She is also an award-winning filmmaker and author.

From her many appearances with Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi and as a solo artist, Elizabeth Schwartz (vocals) has built a loyal following among fans, critics and collaborators. Her first recording of Yiddish, Hebrew and Ladino vocals for the Naxos World label, “Garden of Yidn”(1998), debuted on Canada’s Mundial Top World Music poll. It was hailed as “a landmark in modern Yiddish song” (Sing Out! Magazine). Her vocals can be heard on the soundtracks for the films “L’Chayim, Comrade Stalin!”, “Rumenye, Rumenye”, “Searching for Schwartz” and “American Socialist: The Life & Times of Eugene Victor Debs”. Beyond “Garden of Yidn”, her recordings include “Café Jew Zoo” (Naxos World, 2001), ” Dveykes (Adhesion)” (Global Village Music, 2007) “The Absolutely Complete Klezmer II” (Transcontinental Music, 2007), “Borsht with Bread, Brothers” (Montreal Gazette, Top Ten World Music Recordings, 2008), “The Devil’s Brides” (2012) “City of the Future” (2016) and with the project Yale Strom’s Broken Consort, “Shimmering Lights” (2018) (All three released by ARC Music UK).


Tetyana Yakovleva

Tanya has lived in Ukraine, Germany, Italy, and the United States. She studied Yiddish in Vilnius, New York, Tel-Aviv, and Moscow, and received a Ph.D. in Slavic and Jewish Studies from the University of Regensburg, Germany. Tanya has been teaching for YAAANA since 2019. Tanya speaks 7 languages (Russian, Ukrainian, German, English, Italian, Spanish and Yiddish) and enjoys explaining the origins of words to her students, as well as integrating literary and film examples during her classes.


David Shafir

David Shafir is a life-long student of Yiddish. Having spent many years among the native speakers of Yiddish in Canada and USA has helped him a lot in better understanding the language and its culture. He loves collaborating on new Yiddish-focused projects.


Avi Fried

Avi Fried is a dedicated Yiddishist living in Chicago. He has learned Yiddish in Vilna, Lithuania as well as New York. He has been teaching Yiddish for almost two years – with a special focus on welcoming newcomers to the language. While not knee deep in Yiddish, he likes bike rides, cold noodles and Jewish punk rock.

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Yale Strom

He is  one of the world’s leading ethnographer-artists of klezmer and Roma music and history. He has conducted extensive ethnographic research throughout Eastern Europe since 1981, made nine documentary films, written twelve books, and has had numerous photo exhibitions throughout the world. He has also composed for theatre, film, radio, television and symphony orchestras. His band, Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi, has made fifteen recordings ranging from traditional klezmer to “new” Jewish jazz. He is currently artist-in-residence/professor in the Jewish Studies Program at San Diego State University.

Sasha Hoffman

Sasha Hoffman

Sasha received a PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan in 2012, with a dissertation focused on humorous representations of oppression within the writing of four classical Yiddish and Harlem Renaissance writers: Langston Hughes, Zora Neal Hurston, Sholem Aleykhem, and Modkhe Spector. Among other things, Sasha is a student and a teacher of Yiddish language and culture, with a particular interest in leftist and women’s writing.


Ruth Fay Solomon

Ruthie Solomon has been teaching Yiddish in the United States since 2000 for Jewish community centers, synagogues and public adult education programs.

She had the opportunity to teach Yiddish in the Ukraine during the summers of 1996-2000. Ruthie has a Bachelor of Jewish Literature from The Jewish Teachers Seminary and a Masters of Social Work from Yeshiva University. She is presently teaching for The Great Neck Adult Community Ed. Program.


Katya Kuznetsova

Ekaterina Kuznetsova was born in Moscow. There she studied Literature, Pedagogics, and Religious Studies. In 2016 she graduated from the MA program in Yiddish Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She researched the history of translations from Yiddish as well as intercultural connections in Yiddish literature. Her articles are published in Russian, Polish, Yiddish, and English. She currently lives in Berlin, where she co-founded the initiative Yiddish.Berlin – a group of artists and activists that organizes cultural events involving Yiddish literature and culture. She is a regular contributor to In Geveb journal.