Jewish student union fails to elect new president

Jewish student union fails to elect new president

One candidate pulls out of race at the last minute, the other still falls one vote short of required two-thirds majority

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

World Union of Jewish Students logo (courtesy of WUJS)
World Union of Jewish Students logo (courtesy of WUJS)

The World Union of Jewish Students failed to elect a new president last week, after one candidate pulled out at the last minute and the second fell short of the required two-thirds majority among WUJS executives.

At the end of two and a half hours — and three separate counts — in the WUJS executive body, Chaya Pomeranz was one vote short of being elected president. The tallies took place at the end of a tumultuous day which saw Liron Politzer announce his last-minute decision to step out of the race.

Of the 170 possible votes, 153 were cast by the countries represented at the annual congress on Thursday, with 101 voting for the 24-year-old California-born Pomeranz and 52 opposing her.

According to the organization’s rules, while a normal majority is needed to decide the winner in an election between two candidates, when only one person is running for the job he or she must receive 66 percent of the available votes.

“At the last moment the NUIS [National Union of Israeli Students] candidate chose to withdraw his nomination, forcing me to need 66% of the 154 [available] votes to win the election. I came one vote short,” Pomeranz wrote on Facebook.

“To my Jewish student friends and colleagues, I tell you that despite the disappointment, I will continue to work with each and every one of you to make your unions and WUJS as a whole stronger,” Pomeranz wrote. “This election is not a reflection of the truly unified character of the Jewish student community. Your passion, commitment, and dedication to the cause of WUJS is my inspiration and continues to strengthen my belief in Diaspora Jewry.”

The lack of a decision by union representatives forced WUJS executives to call an emergency meeting in which it was decided that outgoing president Oliver Worth would lead the organization until a new president is elected.

New elections would be held as soon as possible, but are likely to take place in August at an emergency gathering of the executives and unions, or in a year’s time at another Jerusalem-based congress, a member of WUJS told The Times of Israel.

Pomeranz and Politzer had been engaged in an ongoing debate regarding their visions for the organization, which was started by such notable Jews as Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud and Chaim Herzog.

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