Jana Mazurkiewicz Meisarosh: Founder & Director (jana@yaaana.com) is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan. She is working on her dissertation on Yiddish Theater in Communist Warsaw. Originally from Poland, Jana holds a Master of Arts degree in Polish Philology and Jewish Studies from the University of Wrocław. In addition to professional experience in acting, directing, and playwriting, she has taught Yiddish as a private tutor. Jana is not only a practicing academic, but also an active theater artist and critic. In October 2017, she moved to San Diego and launched YAAANA.

Karen Bohrer has worked in areas of professional services marketing, corporate communications, and executive search and has served on the boards of a number of Jewish and other community organizations. Her background also includes having worked on more than 70 productions as a member of the creative team for a leading youth theatre—a perfect match for YAAANA’s theatrical endeavors. She grew up with Yiddish-speaking grandparents and is proud to be a part of preserving the language and bringing it to future generations.

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

Josh Wortman is a San Diego-based technology developer and business owner. He grew up hearing bits of Yiddish, but never really learned much. Interested in and proud of his heritage, he believes it is important to stay connected to Yiddish, the language of his family. Josh is involved in several San Diego-based religious, philanthropic, and cultural organizations.

Yale Strom is also 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.

Amelia Glaser is a scholar of Russian, Ukrainian, and Yiddish literature and an Associate Professor of Literature at the University of California – San Diego (UCSD). She also directs UCSD’s Jewish Studies program and Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies program. She enjoys learning new Yiddish poems and songs and sharing them with her 2- and 4-year-old kinderlekh. She is currently writing a book about Yiddish poetry and internationalism in the 1930s.

Our Volunteers

Lori Finch feeds starving Yiddishists with homemade kugel and helps with all things that can go wrong while organizing events!

Nina Semushina-Leyn is a PhD candidate in linguistics at the University of California — San Diego. A lover of Yiddish, both academically and personally, she has participated in many events organized by YAAANA, including classes of Yiddish language, culture, and theater. She is a professional schlimazl and a talented nudnik. Vey iz mir!

Anna Weltman has lived in Israel, Canada, and the US and is a lover of all things Jewish, Israeli, and “grandparent-ish,” including the Yiddish spoken amongst hers! She is the creator of SHAGY (Shevet Achim Gam Yoga), a Jewish/Israeli roots yoga movement, and the founder of Top Performance Consulting, a consulting firm that promotes performance excellence in sports and business. Her experience in family-run businesses and start-ups– along with a B.S. in computer science and a master’s in Performance Counseling– help her to remain eclectic and open-minded. Just like a good cholent!

Denise Rosenblatt, a San Diego native, has a passion for hosting heymish get-togethers. She therefore volunteers with YAAANA for planning and hosting Yiddish events. Her career as an educator and librarian has literally spanned the globe from Washington, D.C., to Fiji. She is an avid gardener and cook, and an unapologetic Farmers’ Market fan.

Erica Fontana is a PhD student in anthropology at UC San Diego and an adjunct instructor of anthropology at several colleges in the San Diego area. Her research focuses on museum technologies and representation in traditional and non-traditional museums of Polish history.

Edward Meisarosh has been with YAAANA from conception to inception, from photo-taking to food-making, from editing to formatting, and from schlepping to kvetching.