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by Rhonda Spivak, written Jan 4, 20122

Arthur Blankstein and Ken Ure are the first GLTB couple to be married under the auspices of the Shaarey Zedek synagogue, officiated by the clergy at the synagogue on January 21 2012.
The Editor of the Winnipeg Jewish Review received a wedding invitation from the couple, with a reception to follow the chuppah.
Ken and Arthur are both members of the synagogue. Ken became a member in June of last year and Arthur's family have been longtime members of the synagogue.
Blankstein told the Winnipeg Jewish Review, "We were married in a civil ceremony in January 2004 in Vancouver, and now we decided that since we are able we are having a chuppah at the synagogue."
Blankstein, age 66, and Ure, age 58, were both born and raised in Winnipeg.
Ure said, "I went to conversion classes for a year with Rabbi Pinkser and officially converted in June of 2011."

"Arthur and I  first met in 1998 through some friends here, after I returned from California where I lived for 19 years, practicing nursing," he added.

Ian Staniloff, executive director of Shaarey Zedek says that not only is this same sex marriage at the synagogue the first of its kind at Shaarey Zedek but "I think it is one of only a few of its kind in North America in the Conservative movement."

He referred to Shaarey Zedek as more on the "left-wing" of the movement of Conservative Judaism."
Rabbi Alan Green wrote to the Winnipeg Jewish Review in an email that although Shaarey Zedek Congregation " is no longer formally associated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ), we are, and for the foreseeable future will continue to be a synagogue that upholds the standards and practices of Conservative Judaism. "
Staniloff said some three years ago, that Shaarey Zedek under the Rabbinic leadership of Rabbi Green decided that same sex couples could be buried at Shaarey Zedek cemetery. The following year, it was decided that same sex couples could obtain a family membership at the synagogue. Having same sex marriages (where both partners are Jewish) at the synagogue is "a culmination of this process" of ensuring that " Shaarey Zedek is fully inclusive.
Blankstein and Ure have declined gifts, but in lieu of gifts Blankstein said, “There has been a fund established at the Jewish Foundation for Anakhnu the GLTB Rady JCC program and also at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights."

"We have been active in Anakhnu since its inception. No one else in Anakhnu has been married under a chuppah," Blankstein added.

 "We support the Canadian Human Rights Museum because one of the pillars of human rights is inclusion of groups who have historically been discriminated against. It represents equality for all ," Blankstein said.

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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.