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by Rhonda spivak, Jan 16, 2012


Winnipeg has been awarded the semi-annual International Conference of  GLBT [Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered] Jews, to be held here on July 5-7, 2013.

 The  conference is being co-chaired by Paula Parks and Arthur Blankstein. According to Blankstein, Winnipeg was the only city that applied to have the conference.

"This exciting and special opportunity is being presented by the Rady JCC/Anaknu along with Shaarey Zedek Synagogue and Temple Shalom," says Blankstein.

According to Blankstein, Winnipeg was the only city that applied to have the conference.

"Our presentation that was made to the governing body of the World Congress of GLBT Jews at their Paris meetings was masterfully compiled and produced by Tourism Winnipeg. For this effort we are grateful!", he notes.

Blankstein adds "We are now in the formation stage of fleshing out the different committee chairs and in turn the committees as well. Even though a few of us were instrumental in the embryo stage of the conference we are expanding the planning of the conference."

Originally, organizers thought that the conference would take place during only a couple of months after the Canadian Human Rights Museum was set to open, but now that the  CMHR will open in 2014 at the earliest , this will not occur.

A press release originally prepared in the summer of 2011, indicated that the plan was to have  a "special dinner with entertainment and speaker at the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights (scheduled to open in April of 2013)."

The conference will be open to all GLBT persons and their allies and will include a variety of programming which may include the following subjects: AIDS, Women, Seniors, PFLAG issues, and much more.

 "Our conference in Winnipeg is a WORLD-WIDE Conference and it is our hope that every Jewish GLBT group and/or individual will join us in convening this conference, Blankstein says.

"We expect to start to market this conference to interested persons by the fall of 2012," he adds.

According to Blankstein, "We are also considering holding a parallel stream at the conference for clergy who either have congregations and/or minister to congregants of the GLBT community."

We look forward to members of our community joining us in planning of the conference and assisting us as volunteers when the conference happens," he says. To learn more about the organization, click here:

The World Congress of GLBT Jews" Keshet Ga’avah" consists of around 50 member organizations in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Mexico, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Blankstein attended a conference of the World Congress of  GLBT Jews was in Los Angeles in 2010 and wrote about it in the Winnipeg Jewish Review.(see below)

If you are interested in serving on the planning committee please contact either  Arthur Blankstein at 794-6557/ [email protected] or Tamar Barr at 477-7537 / [email protected]

  Preliminary plans (very preliminary at this stage) include:

. Registration on Friday July 5 followed by Oneg Shabbat and dinner on Friday evening

. Seminars and programming on Saturday, July 6 with a special dinner with entertainment and speaker.

. Closing brunch on Sunday, July 7.

[Editor's note: The following is an article  Blankstein wrote in this publication after attending  the world conference of GLBT Jews in Los Angeles/


By Arthur Blankstein, Special to the Winnipeg Jewish Review, August 11, 2010

I am going to Los Angeles to take part in the 20th World Conference of GBLT Jews August 12th – 15th 2010. The conference in being held at the Hillel House on the UCLA Campus and is being presented by The World Congress of GBLT Jews.

For those of you that don’t know, the acronym GBLT stands for Gay, Bi-Sexual, Lesbian and Trans-sexual.

This will be my second conference as I was present in Los Angeles in the early 1970’s at the inaugural Conference. Much has happened since then.

In the 1970’s I was active in the Jewish Gay scene in Toronto, as I like many young Jewish men escaped the cloistered environment in Winnipeg for freedom of choice and anonymity that came from living in Toronto.

The group in Toronto was made up of men from all parts of Canada and even one person from Israel. We met for in a social setting for Chanukah and for Friday night services and coffee house at Holy Trinity Church behind Eaton Centre. Those times, the Jewish GBLT identity was just forming – there was a group in New York (Beth Simcha Torah), a group in Chicago, Montreal, Washington DC, Miami, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Since that time, many of these groups became Synagogues under the banner of Reform Movement. And the struggle for equal rights and the right of Union and/or Marriage is an ongoing battle in the U.S.A.

That is not the case in Canada.

In 2003, persons of the same sex were granted the right of Marriage in Ontario. In 2004 I married my husband Ken Ure in Vancouver. Same sex Marriage was affirmed by Parliament, the Senate and received Royal assent 20th July 2005.

We are part of the general community in Winnipeg, but we also participate and take an active role in Jewish GBLT Community through active participation in Anakhnu - the Rady JCC sponsored program. This Program came into being with the initial grant support of The Jewish Foundation of Manitoba. Our programs continue to grow and diversify.

In addition The Shaarey Zedek Synagogue under the leadership of Rabbi Green and Rabbi Pinsker has moved the Synagogue into an equality situation.

Shaarey Zedek now offers to all GLBT Jewish people the following:

Full Single, Family, and Linked Memberships (dual faith couples would be restricted only by the current synagogue policies now in place);

Single or double funeral plots to members and non-members alike (providing that all interred must be Jewish as per current synagog

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.