My name is Elana Yuabov. I am a proud Bukharian Jewish Woman, and thanks to Leya’s project, I get to share my story with you.
Everybody has strengths and weaknesses. It is important to discover what your strengths are so you can leverage them and realize your potential. One of my key strengths is a great desire to learn and continuously improve. The process of learning excites me and affects every area of my life.
On learning about Judaism:
My family and I came to America in 1994, when I was 16 years old. The first year in the US was very hard as we were learning the language, adapting to a new culture and working many low paid jobs just to get by. My friend Sara and I babysat for one Orthodox family. They introduced us to Rabbi Wagner who invited us for Shabbat. We jumped at the opportunity, not because we were interested in Judaism, but because we wanted to get to know more “Americans” and practice English. It turned out to be a transformative experience. Rabbi Wagner and his family left an indelible mark on me. Their warmth and intellectual brilliance were very attractive to me; This family is what inspired me to pursue learning more about our people and our religion.
I signed up for Hebrew lessons with Mrs. Miriam at Druzhba. Simultaneously, I began attending lectures, and reading Jewish books. Twenty-five years later, I am the matriarch of a beautiful, Jewish, observant family. We celebrate Jewish holidays and Shabbat, read books, play games, and discuss ideas. We often host our non-observant and observant relatives and friends. As an Orthodox Jew, I believe that our lives have a spiritual meaning. We serve our purpose by observing the Torah and commandments, by being kind and useful to others. I am deeply grateful to all of the people who helped me discover the beauty of Judaism. I hope that our kids will continue the legacy of our people.
I am very proud of my three kids. Each one of them brings me joy in their unique way. I love sharing experiences with my kids from early childhood to now; I read what they read. We often attend museums together and go on family vacations each year (special thanks to my husband). When our son decided to trade stocks on the Robinhood platform, I decided to join him so we could have a common experience and another discussion topic. I believe that we have made a great choice by sending our children to very good private yeshiva schools and living Jewish values at home. As Fred Rogers said ““We want to raise our children so that they can take a sense of pleasure in both their own heritage and the diversity of others.” Our children grew to be conscientious, thirsty for knowledge, and are quite frankly, just interesting, fun and good people to be around. We bless our kids every Friday, wishing them continued success, health, meaningful lives and happiness. I am also looking forward, G-d willing, to becoming a grandmother in the near future; In the meantime, I am enjoying the company of my 5 year old nephew and 8 year old niece.
On professional life:
Combining professional pursuits with being an observant Jewish woman is not easy but when there is a will, there is a way. I graduated from Baruch College in 1998 and started working at Segal company as an accountant. Segal company had a full reimbursement program for employees who wanted to pursue their MBAs and even though I had three little children, I enrolled in an MBA program as I simply could not let the opportunity pass by. I worked full time while obtaining my MBA from the University of Phoenix. Once my horizons broadened, I decided to look for a job with an international presence. I joined Geller and Company and obtained my CPA license. I have worked at Geller and Company for 15 years and have had many Finance roles: international accountant (even traveled to Hong Kong), financial analyst, CFO team lead, Allocations team lead, and finally, Director of Financial Planning. Although, I performed well in my various roles, I didn’t enjoy pure accounting and finance. About 4 years ago, I had an “aha” moment and realized that I thrive on managing projects. I love novelty, challenges, working with people, and getting things done. At that point, I decided to pursue my PMP (Project Management Professional) license. Utilizing my established study habits , I was able to pass the exam and obtain the license the first time around. This led to a new opportunity which ultimately resulted in my new role as the Head of the Project Management Team. Recently, my division was acquired by Bloomberg LP, an amazing organization with great benefits such as free learning platforms, free access to museums, and free refreshments. Most importantly, the majority of the organization’s profits go to philanthropic causes. I hope to continue to grow professionally and be of value to my organization and clients.
On being Bukharian:
I appreciate many things in our culture. Even though I grew up in Moscow, I was always drawn to my Bukharian roots. I believe this is because I loved my grandparents.
When I came to America, my sister and I went to the Malika School of Dance. I have the urge to dance every time I hear Bukharian music. I started learning Bukharian language and recently bought the Bukharian Language study guide by Immanuel Rybakov. My family and I sometimes read dialogues from the book at our Shabbat table. I recently started attending Nargis Malayev’s Tuesday singing classes for women, and I enjoy them. I also love our food and enjoy watching cooking classes by Bella Davydov, Sonya (Sonya’s Prep), and Mama Lizachka. My contribution to the Bukharian culture are the video segments I make; I read Bukharian Fairy Tales during the pandemic, while dressed in our traditional joma.
On outlook on life:
Life is full of challenges but also full of opportunities. I had my share of disappointments, heartbreaks, betrayals, and wrong choices in life. I’ve suffered miscarriages as well as an ectopic pregnancy, obesity and recently had my gallbladder removed. I can still wholeheartedly say “what a wonderful world.” I am grateful for all the days of my life, both past and present. Bad days gave me experience and good days gave me happiness. I take one day at a time and always have a backup plan.
I am constantly learning, which enriches my life. I learned about investments, and it made me into a better investor. I learned about healthy habits (super grateful to Optavia and my Optavia mentors), and I became healthier. I learned about parenting, and it made me a better parent. I learn each and every day , whether it be listening to a podcast, reading a book, watching a Ted talk, or taking a LinkedIn Learning course/Coursera course. I learn from the people around me, acquire new skills, and attend lectures. In terms of hobbies, I take piano lessons, meditate, go to the gym, write poetry (a recently discovered talent), and create slideshows for various family events. I share positive thoughts, health tips, gratitude notes, quotes, jokes, and poetry on Facebook with the hope of inspiring others or simply brightening up their day. Most importantly, I share the gift of my smile and often try to light up the room. I try to live by the Jewish values of kindness, learning, and pursuing justice. I am grateful to the many mentors in my life, my parents, my grandparents, my sister, my husband, my in-laws, my kids, friends and family for their support and encouragement.
Dr. Maya Angelou has said “When you learn, teach; when you get give” ; I live by this mantra.