“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.”

Karen Bohrer

President, Women’s Connection at Congregation Beth El, La Jolla, CA

“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.”

Nina Semushina-Leyn

MA alumna and PhD student in Linguistics, UCSD

“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.”

Yale Strom

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

“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.”

Sam Litvin

Writer/Photographer/Traveler, Our Jewish Story www.ourjewishstory.org