The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) has elected a new President for the coming year, with Hannah Brady telling the Jewish News that “UJS needs to be thoroughly visible on campus, on social media, and personally relevant to the lives of Jewish students in the UK.”
The Jewish News spoke to Hannah to talk about her campaign ‘Braiding a Better Future’ and her hopes for UJS, which now represents 64 Jewish Societies, and over 8000 Jewish students in the UK and Ireland.
Hannah has been a long term participant in the Jewish Student community, having been involved whilst completing her BA at Kings College London and during her current studies for her MA at UCL.
Whilst involved with J-Soc in London, she founded the UJS Disabled Students Network and sits on UJS National Council, whilst also representing UJS National Council and students on the UJS Hillel Board of Trustees.
After winning an 80%+ majority vote, despite being the lone candidate, Hannah was keen to both affirm her mandate, and outline her plans for the Union of Jewish Students.
Coming from Newcastle and having attended University in London, Hannah told the Jewish News that “it means a lot to show that you don’t have to go through the traditional routes to be involved successfully in Jewish life.
There’s many aspects about my experience that differ from the majority of previous presidents – I’m a postgrad student, I’m disabled, I didn’t go to a ‘Jewniversity’ (typically seen as Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham and Birmingham) nor did I come from North West London.
“I’m truly honoured to represent all these groups and bring something new to the table.”
Hannah outlined that as the President, she intends to follow through on her manifesto pledges. Her manifesto, entitled ‘Braiding a Better Future’, was in Hannah’s own words ‘one of the longest manifestos in UJS electoral history I’m sure’, but nonetheless, she expanded upon its intentions.
It is built on a number of pledges, and an overall mantra of ‘Every individual has a part to play at the heart of what we do.’
“I intend to focus on cross-communalism and participation. My generation is central to the development of the British Jewish community, and its journey towards becoming increasingly cross-communal.”
“I’m a strong believer in the importance of intersectional relationships, whether that be between denominations, across political divides or even branching out to Student Unions and NUS outside of the Jewish bubble.”
Brady also outlined her desire to engage more students with NUS and their constituent student unions, and showed acute awareness about some of the systemic issues related to the running of UJS.
“In my opinion, visibility is the key. UJS needs to be thoroughly visible on campus, on social media, and personally relevant to the lives of Jewish students in the UK.”
“I want to be a part of the J-Soc experience for UJS’ members, and be present at as many events as I can.
To inspire people to take on roles of leadership, they need to see first-hand how peer leadership works and what it looks like; I intend on doing my best to show Jewish students just that.”
In regard to being the only candidate, Hannah outlined that it was ‘awful’ and ‘really sad’ that only one person was standing.
Although she stressed that she hoped there wouldn’t be a shadow over her campaign as a result, she was also clear that she felt that she could have challenged for the election regardless, and she has not merely won the Presidency due to a lack of opposition.
— Ella Rose (@ellarachelrose) December 14, 2014
In addition to Brady’s election, UJS also embarked on a landmark partnership with Tzedek, which is a Jewish Organisation to tackle extreme poverty.
Ben Salamon, who is the education co-ordinator at Tzedek told the Jewish News that “With the unanimous passing of the UJS & Tzedek motion at UJS’ annual conference, it’s clear that Jewish students are passionate about social action issues and the fight against extreme poverty.”
“Through our summer volunteering programme, Go Global, Tzedek offers Jewish students a way to positively affect change in the developing world, all within a Jewish framework.
“We look forward to working with UJS to ensure Jewish students and are able to make a positive and meaningful impact in the fight against extreme poverty.”
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