Truman Brody-Boyd elected chair of Jewish Leadership Council

Newly elected executive board will serve for the upcoming 2018-2019 academic year

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Third-year College student Truman Brody-Boyd was elected Sunday as the chair of the Jewish Leadership Council

Courtesy Truman Brody-Boyd

Third-year College student Truman Brody-Boyd was elected Sunday to serve as the next Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council. He will succeed fourth-year Nursing student Talia Sion in the role. Members of the executive board for the 2018-19 school year were also elected.

JLC is an umbrella group for five other student organizations — First Year Connection, Hoos for Israel, Jewish Education Initiative, Jewish Religious Life Council and Jewish Social Connection. 

Approximately 30 members of the constituent organizations attended the election which was held at the Brody Jewish Center. The JLC’s other elected positions included third-year College student Wittney Skigen as vice chair, second-year College student Ben Borenstein as community chair, first-year Nursing student Sophie Dornfeld as second year general member, second-year Batten student Zack Szlezinger as third year general member and third-year Batten student Melissa Nelson as fourth year general ember.

Additionally, first-year College student Gabby Posner and first-year Engineering student Craig Epstein were elected First Year Connection co-chairs, third-year College student Dana Needham as Jewish Education Initiative president, second-year College student Michael Marget as Jewish Religious Life Council president, second-year College student Sophia Ritt as Jewish Social Connection president, first-year College student Adam Cooper as Hoos for Israel president, and third-year College student Annie Bryden as Tikkun Olam committee President. 

In an email to The Cavalier Daily, Brody-Boyd said he has clear goals for what he wants to accomplish during his term, including making the Brody Jewish Center more accessible for Jewish students, collaborating with other organizations on Grounds and taking new approaches to increase community engagement.

“For Jewish students, I want to make the Brody Jewish Center more accessible and open, something JLC has been working on for a while,” Brody-Boyd said. “I hope that we are able to strengthen our partnerships with organizations from all corners of U.Va. through creating engaging events together. I want JLC to think outside the box this year, attempting new things and trying to find new ways to appeal to students in a variety of ways, hopefully engaging some that we have not been able to before.”

Skigen, who previously served as JLC vice chair and will continue in the role, works closely with the chair on overseeing both external and internal duties. When she started at the University, Skigen became involved with Hoos for Israel and Jewish Social Justice Council, which has since been renamed to Tikkun Olam Committee.

“Through Hoos for Israel, I was on JLC, and got to see how it works, [and] dealt with some issues then, like the GrandMarc graffiti [that] happened second year … GrandMarc was graffitied, and it was reminiscent of World War II Germany graffiti,” Skigen said. “So [I] started to deal with some of the harder issues that have been going on this year since August, and obviously been going on before that.” 

Skigen also said she hopes to collaborate with other student organizations at the University.

“I definitely want to work on increasing our transparency, I think that that’s something we’ve been working on,” Skigen said. “I also want to really connect the different groups. A lot of times the subgroups we have plan events for the people that are involved in those groups, and that’s great, but I really wanna work on having those events reach a larger Jewish audience.”

JLC does work with outside organizations — following the deadly Unite the Right rally last August, JLC held an event for discussion co-sponsored with Sustained Dialogue event.

“Especially after August [we thought], ‘We’re not going to let this define our year,” Skigen said. “We tried to create those spaces for people that needed to talk about or wanted to talk about everything that happened.”

Recently, the JLC petitioned to join the Minority Rights Coalition and was conditionally rejected. According to an MRC statement, the rejection came because the JLC includes Hoos for Israel, an organization that concerned some of MRC’s constituent organizations. JLC and MRC have been in discussion since the rejection. Skigen says this will continue.

“I do not know whether or not we will do anything ‘different,’ per se,” she wrote in an email to The Cavalier Daily, “but I do know we will continue to actively work towards a place of mutual understanding with the MRC.”

Borenstein, who was elected to be JLC’s Community Chair, facilitates communication between the Jewish community and other communities at the University. 

“I believe JLC’s purpose is to unite different organizations through the Jewish Center, and to lead and represent the voices, because as a group on Grounds that has faced hate and discrimination recently, it’s important that we have a voice and a community to gather around,” Borenstein said. 

Borenstein said he is optimistic about next year’s JLC executive board.

“I’m really excited for what we can do in this next year, and especially, I think Truman is going to do a really great job,” Borenstein said. “Anytime I’ve talked to any student leaders on Grounds, it’s impossible to bring up Truman’s name without immediately getting a smile in return.”

The newly-elected JLC board will take over in fall of 2018.

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