President, Women’s Connection at Congregation Beth El, La Jolla, CA
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.
MA alumna and PhD student in Linguistics, UCSD
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.
Yiddish Arts and Academics Association of North America provides opportunity for people to learn and to experience Yiddish Language, which is admirable and very important. The events are fun and engaging. Highly Recommend.
Rabbi-Cantor Cheri Weiss
Rarely have I met anyone as passionate about her field as Jana, the founder of YAAANA, is. She has devoted her life to the preservation of Yiddish language and culture, and she does it with so much joy, enthusiasm and creativity. She makes the past come alive and keeps it in the present. The events are fun and interesting, the people are always friendly, and I have met people of all ages and backgrounds. There are classes, social and holiday events, musical and cultural events, etc. There is a lot from which to choose!
YAAANA 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 Yiddish language and culture through plays, dance parties, engaging classes and lively events. Her vibrant personality and sense of humor permeates throughout the organization and in so many of YAAANA’s projects.
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.
Writer/Photographer/Traveler for Our Jewish Story
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.
I have attended several Yiddishland events. I love Yiddishland and everything it stands for. It is one of a kind place that embraces culture, art, history, and language of people with Yiddish background. Jana knows how to put on a variety of fun, meaningful, and educational events. She makes it family friendly. She is also such a sweetheart. Our city is lucky to have this place!
I am amazed of the variety of great Yiddish learning activities for all ages ans levels of previous knowledge. The quality of teaching is above all my expectations. All teachers have a different teaching style and all classes have a continuity. You will never be bored! Unfortunately, Yiddish was lost in my family and did not become an active “mame loshn”. This missing part of the identity disturbed me for years. I am so greatful to YAAANA founder Jana and all teachers for giving the opportunity to be part of the Yiddishkayt. I try to catch missing 60+ years now. In addition, fees are very reasonable. I highly recommend to join YAAANA activities to everybody who is interested in Yiddish culture.
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 Yiddish language and culture. I already learned some new Yiddish words, as well as etymologies…
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. I’m attaching pictures from several I’ve been to, including a picture of my grandparents enjoying 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 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. 🙂
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
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.
Very interesting cultural space with a delightful owner/president. The facility – which is a combination of art gallery, gathering place, coffee house and cultural exchange – is welcoming, cozy, and a refreshing change of pace from the usual La Jolla village ‘scene’. If you’re in town, check it out!
I’m impressed with the hard work done by this organization, especially by its founder, Jana, to popularize Yiddish language and art, and to create circumstances for their thriving. It takes a special kind of passion, creativity and stamina — and these qualities make Jana an inspiration. My sincere wish is for her to enjoy the blessed fruit of her labor of love.
YAAANA brings the vitality and the joy of Yiddish language and culture to our community in San Diego and beyond. YAAANA’s events and classes are accessible, fun, educational, and well put together. The passion and the vision of this organization shines through all that they do. I am proud to be a part of it and would encourage everyone with even the slightest idea (or not!) of what Yiddish is to participate in and support the important cultural work that they do!
The Corona lockdown has been difficult for many people, I know, but for me, it has opened up enormous opportunities to engage in what I dearly love and could not do much of – Yiddish. All of a sudden, Yiddish groups and conferences and seminars and reading groups and conversation groups and concerts, all of these became available to all of us, everywhere we live.
And that is how I found YAAANA. It was one of the first organisations I encountered as I began to see Yiddish opportunities popping up. I came across YAAANA on Facebook and contacted its founder and director Jana Mazurkiewicz Meisarosh. She responded immediately, well, as immediately as could be for someone who lives in San Diego writing to someone who lives in the UK. Jana has assembled one of the best Yiddish programmes around. For one, the classes meet throughout the year and throughout the week. They are reasonably priced and very welcoming. You can learn Yiddish, join a conversation group to practice speaking it, or one to read and discuss literature. You can do yoga, or work on creating a play. Jana has particularly championed the cause of women in Yiddish and is very welcoming to the LGBT+ community.
One other aspect of YAAANA that I really like. The atmosphere is welcoming and accepting. Some Yiddish programmes have teachers who are not very sympathetic to people struggling to learn. I think Jana chooses teachers who accept learners as they are and try to help them develop their Yiddish skills.
If you are looking for responsive, engaging, and diverse Yiddish opportunities, I can really recommend you look at YAAANA – Yiddish Arts and Academics Association of North America. I’ll be learning with them for a long time to come.