Carmel Tanaka

Carmel Tanaka (she/her) is the December featured speaker in Kolot Mayim Reform Temple’s Building Bridges: Celebrating Diversity in Jewish Life. Carmel talks 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.

As a queer Jew of Color, Carmel sees herself as uniquely positioned to be an interconnected bridge, “As a mixed-race person, I have felt what it’s like to not be fully accepted by my own community.” She explains that “The art of bridging communities and bringing people together is my humble craft.” Carmel’s mother is Ashkenazi Israeli and her father is Japanese Canadian.

She is the founder of one of Canada’s only Jewish Queer Trans organizations––JQT Vancouver. JQT is an arts, cultural and educational non-profit dedicated to creating connections and seeking space to celebrate the intersectional identities of Jews of all ages, diverse sexual orientations, as well as gender and sex identities, by queering Jewish space and ‘Jewifying’ queer space. She also founded Genocide Prevention BC, a cross-cultural collective of BC representatives committed to the prevention of genocide and crimes against humanity through dialogue, education and broader community engagement.

She created Cross Cultural Walking Tours, a community grassroots initiative celebrating the rich layered history of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhoods. These tours build awareness of the contributions of early immigrant communities then and now for Canada’s Asian and Jewish Heritage Months. Carmel Tanaka was recently named one of Be’chol Lashon’s 7 LGBTQ+ Jews of Color You Should Know.

This event is part of a 6-part series of talks on the theme of Building Bridges: Celebrating Diversity in Jewish Life. The community is invited to listen and learn from Indigenous, Black, Asian, feminist, differently gendered, and differently abled advocates who work tirelessly to make our world a better place.