Canadian Jewish Community Forum Survey

The Canadian Jewish Community Forum is a newly-formed organization with the goal to promote participation in, engagement with, and a sense of ownership of Jewish advocacy and programs in Canada by all members of the Canadian Jewish community.

We first want to survey the Jewish community of Canada. We hope to take the pulse of Canadian Jews.  This survey will be an opportunity for as many Jews as we can canvass from across the country to share their priorities with us. 

The survey will be confidential. We will not be collecting any identifying information. At the end of the survey there will be an option for people to opt-in to our mailing list. We intend to make the survey results available to any Jewish organization that requests it. 

Results of the survey will be followed by forums held across the country on topics that our community identifies as being important to us. The forums will be a safe place for Jews to respectfully discuss and debate with each other, from our differing perspectives, issues of concern both regional, national and international that impact Canada, the Canadian Jewish community and Israel. Our goal is to truly be a Forum for Canadian Jews.

For more information about the CJCF, who we are and more background on our initiative we invite you to look at our website: and to contact us at: The survey is available in both official languages.

Introduction to Judaism

January 13, 2021 to March 24, 2022 – This course is for anyone interested in exploring Jewish life.  Open to all, this course is perfect for interfaith couples, those raising Jewish children, spiritually curious, and individuals considering conversion.  

Topics include holidays, life cycle celebrations, theology and core beliefs, Hebrew, prayer, the Torah and other sacred texts, and history.    

Judaism is the way of life of the Jewish people.  As a way of life, it includes the social, cultural, and religious history of a widespread and diverse community.  Being Jewish involves not just adhering to a religion but also belonging to a people. 

Please note, if you are considering conversion, this class is a pre-requisite for conversion.

Registration with payment is required. Class size is limited to 20 persons. See below for full details.

Congregation Emanu-El is a modern Conservative, egalitarian and inclusive synagogue.   

We look forward to seeing you in January.

Summary of course details

  • Dates: January 13, 2021 to March 24, 2022 (no class March 17th)
  • Time: 7 pm to 8:15 pm
  • Cost: $140 per person for members or $160 for non-members
  • Where: Zoom (register for link)
  • Registration and information: Please contact Emanu-El’s office during office hours at 250-382-0615. Office hours are Tuesday to Thursday 9:30 am to 2:30 pm

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

The Kosher Pig Lecture Series

Thursdays 6 to 7:30 pm, beginning August 12, 2021

It is a myth that Judaism “has always been this way.” In these four lectures, Rabbi Matt Ponak will show how and why our ancestors have always made choices about how they want to live, regardless of what religious customs they inherited. You’ll even learn how to make a pig kosher!

Thursdays August 12, 19, 26 and September 2 from 6 to 7:30 pm PT on Zoom. The lectures will be recorded.

Bad Faith: Why the Jews are not a religion—and shouldn’t be!

Sunday, May 2, 2021 at 7 pm—Congregation Emanu-El Adult Education  team invites you to join Daniel Boyarin 0n Sunday, May 2, 2021 at 7 pm, who argues,  “In this lecture, I intend to show that historically the Jews did not consider themselves a religion until modernity. I will argue for Jewish Peoplehood (however that may be ultimately defined and experienced). I will try to show some negative consequences of defining ourselves as a religion even now.”

Daniel Boyarin, Taubman Professor of Talmudic Culture and Rhetoric, University of California at Berkeley, received his PhD in 1975 from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He has been a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow (twice), a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, a holder of the Berlin Prize at the American Academy in Berlin and a Ford Foundation Fellow.

Prof. Boyarin has written extensively on talmudic and midrashic studies. His work has focused on cultural studies in rabbinic Judaism, including issues of gender and sexuality, and research on the Jews as a colonized people. His most recent research interests centered primarily around questions of the relationship of Judaism and Christianity in late antiquity and the genealogy of the concepts of “religion” and “Judaism.”

For information and the Zoom link contact Donations to our Adult Education fund are always welcome. You may donate ONLINE or through the office at

Where does the Jewish Future Begin?

Monday, April 12, 12 – 1:30 pm PT—How do we build Jewish Community and inspire Jewish life? How do we nurture Jewish identity that is deep and lasting? How do we use Jewish text and tradition to offer meaning to modern Jews?

Join the Jewish Theological Seminary’s (JTS’s) new Chancellor Shuly Rubin Schwartz in dialogue with the Conservative rabbis of British Columbia, moderated by Rabbi Jonathan Infeld, about what comes next for the Jewish community.

We’re delighted to welcome the participation of the following synagogues and their congregants:

  • Beth Tikvah Synagogue, Richmond
  • Congregation Beth Israel, Vancouver
  • Congregation Emanu-El, Victoria
  • Congregation Har El, West Vancouver

For more information and to register, visit

Rabbi Harry talks about Death and Dying

Sunday, March 7, 2021 at 7 pm on Zoom—Congregation Emanu-El invites you to join us on Sunday, March 7, 2021 at 7 pm on Zoom when Rabbi Harry will talk about Death and Dying. He will explore questions such as “Do Jews believe in heaven and hell”, “What does Judaism say about reincarnation and life after death”, and “What does Jewish burial and mourning ritual have to teach us about life and death?” Join Rabbi Harry in an exploration and survey of Jewish mystical texts and halakhah (Jewish law) with the goal of gaining new insight into death and dying and understanding the tremendous wisdom inherent in Jewish mourning practice.

About Rabbi Brechner

Rabbi Harry Brechner has been the spiritual leader of Congregation Emanu-El in Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia for the past 19 years. He is involved with various social action projects and outreach to marginal and vulnerable folk in Victoria and is a strong supporter of multi-faith, multi-cultural dialogue. With a background in early childhood education and child development, Rabbi Harry has worked both as a pre-school teacher and a special educator. Some of his sundry experiences include commercial fishing in Alaska, trail maintenance in the Northeast corner of the Cascade Mountains, tying re-bar on construction sites in Seattle. He has also served as a combat medic in the Israel Defense Forces. Rabbi Harry is a mediator and spiritual seeker who also makes a great kosher gumbo and jambalaya.

For information and the Zoom link contact Donations to our Adult Education fund are always welcome. You may donate ONLINE or through the office at

Creative Midrash with Rabbi Harry

Sunday, February 7, 2021 at 7 pm on Zoom—Midrash is the Talmudic/rabbinic tradition of fleshing out Torah text, described best by Tillie Stanger-Ross as “rabbinic fan fiction.” We will use creative media and modalities to generate new insights and meaning for classic Torah narratives, using “Bibliodrama”a form of psychodrama developed by Peter Pitzele to uncover archetypes and emotions that stem from Torah narratives. We will also engage in collage-making and journaling, to explore and generate personal and relevant new understandings of Torah narratives.

Continue reading Creative Midrash with Rabbi Harry

Howie’s Challah Baking Zoom Workshop

pizza picture-001

Join Howie Herzog in this four part interactive workshop where we will make challah together in our own kitchens. Please come to the workshop from your kitchen with the ingredients ready to go.

  • Part 1:  11:15am – 12:15pm: Make the dough
  • Part 2:  2:00pm – 2:45pm: “Take challah” and braid
  • Part 3:  3:30pm – 3:45pm – In the oven she goes
  • Part 4:  4:15pm – Challah!

Continue reading Howie’s Challah Baking Zoom Workshop

Renewing Jewish spirituality after the holocaust

Jewish Spirituality1000Sunday, February 23, 2020, 4 pm at Congregation Emanu-El—The Emanu-El Adult Education Team invites the community to attend the fifth presentation in the Alternative Realities in Judaism series featuring Rabbi Daniel Siegel discussing Renewing Jewish Spirituality after the holocaust on Sunday February 23, 2020 at 4 pm. Entry is by donation: light refreshments will be served.

There is little doubt that the combination of the European tragedy, the creation of the State of Israel, and the growing awareness of the need to transcend tribalism have combined to mount a strong challenge to traditional forms of Jewish identity. In this session, Rabbi Daniel Siegel will guide us as we look at ways to renew our Judaism with a particular emphasis on Ḥasidism and neo-Ḥasidism.

image-assetRabbi Daniel was the Rabbinic Director of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal and is currently the Rabbinic Director of ALEPH Canada. As the founding director of the Integral Halachah Institute, he organizes teleconferencing classes, edits and publishes the teachings of Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and others, is the editor of Siddur Kol Koreh and other resources for prayer. As the first Dayan in ALEPH, he responds to questions and has written extensively on halachic issues. His writings can be found in his blog and in the ALEPH ReSources Catalogue ( He has served the ALEPH Rabbinic Program as Associate Dean, teacher, and director of studies. He is a trained mediator and is deeply involved in his local, Hornby Island community.

He is married to Rabbi Hanna Tiferet Siegel, the father of Noah, Shefa, and Elisha, and grandfather to Eden and Avna.