Carmel Tanaka: A day in the life of a queer, neurodivergent, Jewpanese millennial

Carmel Tanaka

December 5, 2021Carmel Tanaka will be the featured speaker in Kolot Mayim Reform Temple’s Building Bridges: Celebrating Diversity in Jewish Life speaker series on Sunday, December 5th at 11 am PST on Zoom. Carmel will talk about her Jewish and Japanese heritage, and the generational impact of both the Holocaust and the Japanese internment camps in Canada. Carmel will share her lived experience of how she builds bridges and celebrates all her intersecting identities, Jew-ISH-ly.

Carmel is well known in the Victoria Jewish community for her work at UVic Hillel. As a queer Jew of Color, Carmel sees herself as uniquely positioned to be an interconnected bridge, Carmel’s mother is Ashkenazi Israeli and her father is Japanese Canadian. Carmel Tanaka was recently named one of Be’chol Lashon’s 7 LGBTQ+ Jews of Color You Should Know.

Talks are free. For more information and to register, please visit the Kolot Mayim website at

Summary of event details

You Count. Be Counted.

Invitations to participate in the 2021 Census are now arriving in the mail. The Government of Canada uses census information to plan important community services, such as employment programs, public transit, schools, hospitals, and more.

The last census under-reported Jewish Canadians by a large margin, impeding our Jewish Federation of Victoria & Vancouver Island’s ability to address important issues we all care about—such as antisemitism, security, housing, healthcare, and fighting poverty.

One in every four census questionnaires is the long-form version and includes questions about ethnicity (Question 23) and religion (Question 30). So that the perspectives of Jewish Canadians are reflected in public policy, and to ensure we receive our fair share of programs and services, it is important for Jewish Canadians to be recognized by the Government of Canada as a thriving, growing, and engaged community.

If it is important to you to be counted as Jewish then write “Jewish” in responding to Question 23, Question 30—or both! For Question 23, which pertains to ethnicity, you can include multiple answers – for example, “Russian” and “Jewish” or “Moroccan” and “Jewish.”
For more information…

Biró’s in Bergen

Zsofi, Daniel & David

It’s been almost two and a half years since the Biró family left Victoria for Bergen in Western Norway. Although very beautiful, Bergen is the rainiest city in Europe. Where Victoria gets an average of 23 inches of rain per year, Bergen receives over 88 inches! 
Starting a new life in Norway has not been easy. They all took languages classes and now navigate their everyday lives more or less in Norwegian. Daniel holds a position as Professor of Composition at the Grieg Academy, U of Bergen. He teaches composition to BA, MA and PhD students, organizes concerts and research symposia, and is constantly at work on his own compositions. Daniel has also been central to the organization of the first official Jewish association in Bergen. Nearly 80 years after the Holocaust in Norway, this will be the first official Jewish organization in Western Norway. 
Zsofi works as a substitute high school teacher and as a volunteer English teacher at a local organization that provides supports to immigrants, refugees, and low-income people. Soon turning seventeen, David attends a Norwegian high school, plays piano and tuba and is a computer technology whiz. He recently completed an online introductory course in coding offered by Harvard University. 
Says Zsofi: “We all miss the community of Congregation Emanu-El. While it was necessary to move for professional reasons, the inability to take part in regularly organized Jewish life has been difficult.” With the establishment of Det jødiske Samfunn I Bergen (The Jewish Community of Bergen), the family hopes to initiate a new chapter of Jewish life in Western Norway. “Even being far away,” adds Zsofi, “We still feel part of the Congregation Emanu-El community.”

We Can Support MAZON with Confidence


We have long supported MAZON because they do wonderful work providing food to those in need across Canada, both Jewish and non-Jewish, including in Victoria.  When I heard it said that MAZON has “left Victoria behind,” I contacted Director Izzy Waxman and she quickly reassured me that the rumour was baseless.

MAZON supported three programs in Victoria in 2019: the Mustard Seed Food Bank, the Preschool Nutrition Program at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, and the Emergency Food Subsidy Program at Jewish Family Services of Vancouver Island. Continue reading We Can Support MAZON with Confidence