Jewish News meets candidates for UJS president: Sorting the real from the spiel!
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Jewish News meets candidates for UJS president: Sorting the real from the spiel!

Union of Jewish Students contenders undergoes our scrutiny, on everything from their campaign videos and 'Jewishness', to levels of chutzpah and policies for their tenure

Top: Jodie and Miles. Bottom: Anthony and Nina
Top: Jodie and Miles. Bottom: Anthony and Nina

This year, we continue our tradition of mercilessly scrutinising the candidates in one of the Jewish community’s most hotly-contested annual elections – that of president of the Union of Jewish
Students (UJS).

At a time when campus life has rarely been more challenging, this year has not two, not three, but four hopefuls putting themselves forward.

Let’s meet the contestants…

Anthony Bolchover

This Birmingham maths student is a “passionate advocate for Jewish students”. He is chair of his Israel Society and a CAMERA on Campus Fellow (whose director says alumni make aliyah, join the IDF and work for Hasbara Fellowships), a tenner says he’s living in Tel Aviv or  Herzliya by January if he doesn’t win. Impressive Anthony featured in our recent ‘25 Under 25’ countdown of young people on the rise. 

Anthony Bolchover

Jodie Franks

This inspirational Leeds student says she studies classics, by which she may well mean she’s rather good at pub quizzes with all those tricky questions about Greek and Roman gods. Her strapline –which she hopes will propel her all the way to the presidency – is “Franks is the Future”.

Jodie Franks

 Miles Stewart-Compton

This bright politics and philosophy students from Southampton says: The Jewish people have come to master resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity and hardship”.

Miles Stewart-Compton

Nina Freedman

This ambitious Bristol University student promises to “work hard to reconnect you to the things you might have lost”. Nina’s campaign poster shows her smashing through a completed jigsaw puzzle. 

Nina Freedman

Assessment stage

Round One:

Campaign Videos

Anthony wins a point for calling Birmingham “sunny” in his campaign video but loses it for hand gestures that look like he’s telling off his dog.

Jodie wins a point for conducting her video in a storm, but loses it for the garish background and another for saying JSocs don’t “feel Jewish”.

Nina loses three points for making dogs howl with her singing. A fourth point is deducted when her mates make matters worse. A fifth and sixth go when she says she’s “running for president” on a treadmill, but she regains a point for wearing long sleeves and another for a karate kick, so ends up with -4.

Miles wins a point for the human intestines sketch behind him, but loses 10 for being serious and not leaving the house. Come on, Miles, we’re supposed to be loud and proud!

 

Round Two: Jewishness

Anthony, suited-and-booted

Jodie says being Jewish is about “food, friends and festivals”, losing her a point for the persistent use of f-words. She adds that “on a deeper level, it is my way of life and something which I am proud of”, landing her a formal warning for having any kind of depth whatsoever.

Miles says it “means anything from family, friends and culture through shul, chicken soup and JSoc all the way to bagels, Purim and Seinfeld,” adding: “It means everything to me.” So, that’s -5 for putting all his eggs in the Jewish basket, but a point each for chicken soup, bagels and Seinfeld.

Anthony gets a point for chicken soup and one for Woody Allen, but these days a point is also deducted for Woody Allen. He loses another three for quoting Ed Miliband, whose criticism of Israel we suspect he shares. For

Nina, being Jewish is “standing in the Jew corner of Crisis in Nottingham and feeling right at home as you bump into everyone you went to school with”. Four points for candour, one for altruism.

 

Round Three: Chutzpah

Anthony ran through a field of wheat, which we assume was not in Birmingham, and stood for UJS president when he said he wouldn’t, the #UtterScoundrel.

Jodie needs some chutz-umph too, saying the worst she’s done is not tell her grandparents about her online campaign on Facebook, when everyone knows grandparents are so over “soshing”.

Nina “haggled with a seller in the shuk and got 80 percent off” and “downed a bottle of wine in a park to win a free T-shirt”. This prompts a point avalanche and a hastily scribbled office memo that, if elected UJS president, she could bring the entire edifice crashing down.

Miles claws back many of his lost points by having played NWA’s Straight Outta Compton while DJing at a charity gig. The old folks’ home has said it’ll be inviting an alternative performer next year. 

Miles, back in the day.

Round Four: Wholeness

Yes, we know it’s not really a category, but word-counts and all… If Miles wins he says he’d “probably fall off my chair and try to collect myself for a good moment or so” before “returning from this haze” and tucking into the kugel his rabbi’s wife makes, which is whole enough for most parents.

Nina

The Bristolian wild child Nina likes Israel because you can “go to Shalvata and know that you could marry everyone you meet”, which sounds both whole and supremely arrogant. She says she’ll celebrate by sleeping.

Anthony will celebrate with a fair few single malts, followed by a few more, followed by “a ridiculous amount of paprika” in his mum’s Moroccan soup, which makes him whole every time he has it, while optimist Jodie says she’ll be having three bottles of wine whatever the outcome. That’s our kind of president.

 

Conclusion

Nina from Bristol says the one thing she’d change as UJS president is her tax bracket, which gives insight into how she’d fly the UJS plane once in the cockpit.

Anthony loves how nervous his dad gets dealing with Ben-Gurion security, hates that Israelis don’t queue, and tells Jewish News about a cracking deal on Glenlivet whisky, all of which should easily win him this contest, but then he goes and spoils it all by talking about himself in the third person – “that it should disturb Anthony Bolchover as he answers these questions…”

Then there’s Miles. He says the worst thing about Israel is “the uncertainty and instability in the region”, by which he means “Israel’s neighbours”, and from his video we suspect his flatmates think the worst thing about their apartment is the “uncertainty and instability” from his room, given he likes watching Talking Heads’ 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense, possibly repeatedly, possibly at loudish volumes, but we could be wrong.

All of which leaves Jodie Franks, the future, in part for her answer to the question: ‘What would you say to Jeremy Corbyn if you got in an elevator with him?’ While the others ranted and raved, Jodie replied: “I’d take the stairs.”

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