"Jana has single-handedly made this organization the primary international organization for all Yiddish and Yiddish-related content (lectures, book groups, classes for all levels, music training, live plays on Zoom, etc) across the world. Bridging academics and artists, for real. My daughter is participating in a Yiddish class that she organized with kids all over the place; something we parents have been trying to organize for ages to no result. Like, it has just taken over the Yiddish internet (far outpacing Arbeter Ring which had previously been at the digital frontlines, leaving YIVO and the National Yiddish Book Center totally in the dust). She was struggling to turn it into a local San Diego outfit last summer because interest in Yiddish is locally limited, but now that it is international, and she has connections in several countries and cities…….. she has really single-handedly made an incredible thing. It is so awesome, and Jana is knowledgeable, energetic, creative, and talented. Start following it yourself and see!"
Dr. Jaclyn Granick
Lecturer in Modern History at Cardiff University in Wales
"YAAANA is a super special force in San Diego bringing together multi-generational and inter-religious peoples to reinvigorate the Yiddish tradition in our community. This organization is reincarnating our heritage in SoCal with the most accessible means. 10/10 would recommend."
"The variety of Yiddish online virtual programming, sponsored by YAAANA, a new organization, is astounding! And it is a one-woman effort!"
"The speakers, some of whom are internationally renowned, discuss Yiddish origins, the Yiddish theatre, Yiddish music, and Yiddish literature, in addition to other topics. Yiddish yoga is in the mix too! They provide an unsurpassed cultural richness."
Mazel Tov to Yana!
"Amazing events and programs that illuminate the language you always wanted to learn! Serious scholarship combined with a sense of humor and fun. Highly recommended!"
“Joanna’s goal is to spread Yiddish beyond academic circles and make it accessible, make it normal, make it relevant, make it fun… I am very lucky to have met Mrs. Mazurkiewicz, …because I am able to get [a] first-hand look at the work she does and to learn things which I otherwise would not have. There are very few people in this world who spend their time not only on saving Jewish heritage, but also making sure that we know it, even when we think we don’t need to. Joanna has passion and talent for making Yiddish relevant. This kind of talent is rare [and] must be nurtured and supported. It gives me great pleasure to teach others of a lost heritage which is responsible for so much of our modern culture, and I would not be able to do so without the events that Mrs. Mazurkiewicz puts on.”
“The YAAANA organization…has brought [the] revival of Yiddish culture through film screenings, play, and short story readings, poetry, concerts, discussions, and language classes to San Diego. The revival of Yiddish culture not only has attracted Jews whose ancestry comes from Eastern Europe but non-Jews who are excited and curious to learn more about this culture that helped create the foundations of much of American popular culture [such as] (Broadway musical theatre, comedy, film, and the American songbook) today. The last of the native Yiddish speakers who grew up with the Yiddish heard on the streets of Eastern Europe will soon leave this world. To keep Yiddish vital and thriving, YAAANA is an important organization that will bring in new people who are curious to explore this world, particularly millennials. These young people will not only learn about the richness of the Yiddish past (the world of “Fiddler on the Roof”) but how Yiddish culture was part of the history of California, from the 19th -century gold-seeking forty-niners to the 20th -century Hollywood film moguls, to the 21st-century hip-hop artists of urban California.”
Yiddish culturalist, musician, composer, writer, photographer, and ethnographer
Professor, Artist-in-residence/lecturer, Jewish Studies Program at San Diego State University
A member of YAAANA’s Board of Advisors
“For me, Yiddish is a link not only to Jewish culture and literature (that is truly fascinating) but to my own family history that I feel detached from. I do not speak the language that my great-grandparents spoke, so I am losing my roots and my identity. Some people even think that Yiddish is a dead language. It is not entirely true: Yiddish is spoken either in extremely religious communities or studied by scholars in an academic environment….When Joanna…organized the first YAAANA meeting, she said in her introductory speech that she wants Yiddish to become a language of communication and art again – and I think that she manages to do it. YAAANA meetings are always very inspiring and multigenerational – people of different ages, backgrounds, speaking different languages (including Yiddish!) come to learn more about Yiddish and pass this knowledge on…. I am sure that many, many people would share this dream, and even more sure that the Yiddish classes and meetings will attract a lot of students – not necessarily Jewish, but [also anyone] interested in culture, language, theatre, and history.”
MA alumna and Ph.D. student in Linguistics, UCSD
“I have come to know Jana through her involvement in several programs throughout our community, promoting Yiddish culture in a way that will preserve its rich history academically, while bringing it to all ages and keeping it alive and relevant, to be discovered, studied, and explored at many levels…. Those who are and would be impacted by the continuation and expansion of her efforts through YAAANA are those who still have the memories of growing up in a culture of Yiddish, those who are ready to delve deeper and explore the extraordinary heritage of their families and people, and those with an interest in this important culture, rich in linguistic, artistic, and historical depth. YAAANA’s efforts promise to meet the needs and interests of related groups throughout California, and more.”
President, Women’s Connection at Congregation Beth El, La Jolla, CA
“YAAANA events are always vivid and family-friendly. You will also have fun and get touch of Yiddish.”
b Tanya Yakovleva
“I highly recommend participating in YAAANA activities. I attended several events organized by YAAANA. They were really good opportunity to get familiar with Yiddish language, through funny activities including singing songs in Yiddish, and participating in Jewish holidays.”
“YANNA is a fabulous organization building community through language and culture. Jana, the organization’s founder, is an extremely creative personality. She shares her love of the Yiddish language and culture through plays, dance parties, engaging classes, and lively events. Her vibrant personality and sense of humor permeate throughout the organization and in so many of YAANA’s projects.”
“The Yiddish Arts and Academics Association of North America (YAAANA) is a valuable organization for the Jewish cultural community in San Diego!
The founder, Jana, is a truly talented community organizer and educator who uses her knowledge, community, and drive to create wonderful events on a huge range of topics. She brings together people who want to celebrate Jewish holidays, learn the Yiddish language and culture, and participate in other traditions and creates a comfortable and welcoming environment.
I’ve attended and/or volunteered at about half a dozen YAAANA events and I am always delighted at the wonderful people who show up. My grandparents enjoyed themselves at the 2018 Rosh Hashanah celebration. It’s not every weekend that my grandparents go to parties, which is evidence of how lovely these events are. Attending these events is one of the few places I go to where I end up meeting and hanging out with an age range from babies to > 90-year-olds and that is another great thing about these events that I hadn’t realized I was even missing until I saw it.
If you’re thinking about attending, please do (and if I’m there, come to say hi!). Everyone is friendly, and whether you already know a lot about the holidays and traditions or if you have no idea or somewhere in between (that’s me!), it is a great place to be. Also, the events that have food are DELICIOUS.”
“YAAANA, with its mission to promote and revive Yiddish, through cultural, academic, and artistic events, is creating a new space for community and cultural experiences in San Diego, by both introducing Yiddish language and culture to new audiences and connecting with those already familiar with it.” (Click here for the full review)
"I have attended so far one Yiddish language class and one poetry reading/lecture. Both events were a great pleasure. The poetry reading introduced me to a new poet, both her writing and her life, with a fine dramatic reading and slide show. An overall lovely event. The beginner’s Yiddish class was also great fun; Jana is an excellent and natural teacher. She is enthusiastic, warm, creative, personable, and an expert in both the Yiddish language and culture. I already learned some new Yiddish words, as well as etymologies…"