The mission of the Yiddish Arts and Academics Association of North America (YAAANA) is to promote Yiddish language and culture through academic and artistic events and through Yiddish food. YAAANA strives to promote and preserve Yiddish arts culture (literature, theater, music and dance) through community-building, multigenerational, low-cost events within the US.
In the United States, Yiddish has been trapped within two discrete, hermetic spheres: the ultra-Orthodox sphere, which engages the religious aspects of Yiddishkeit, and the academic sphere, which tends to study secular Yiddishkeit of the past. As a result, Yiddish language and culture has not been popularized, is often viewed as a relic of the past, and fails to find resonance in daily life and modern culture. YAAANA distinguishes itself by bringing Yiddish culture to the public sphere through accessible and engaging programming that exposes the general public to the richness, depth, and multi-faceted nature of living Yiddish culture.
YAAANA was founded by Jana Mazurkiewicz Meisarosh and is based in San Diego (California), but was first piloted in Ann Arbor, Michigan between the Fall of 2013 and Spring of 2016. YAAANA had a soft launch in January 2017 and became fully-functional in March 2017. YAAANA is fiscally sponsored by Tarbuton, a California 501(c)(3), through its Startup18 program.