Claiming My Voice: Learning How Words Speak Louder Than Actions

By: Ruchama Benhamou  |  May 14, 2024

By Ruchama Benhamou, Managing Editor

When I first began my journey at Yeshiva University, I was extremely reserved and soft spoken. Now, if you know me, you know I’m nothing like that in the slightest! I am outgoing, loud, fun, and funny – or at least I like to think that. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m that girl who always speaks up in class to fill the gaps of awkward silence while the teacher waits for anyone to contribute a sound beyond theirs. That annoyingly outspoken one who never seems to remain quiet and/or out of the spotlight of various positions in YU. Some would say I “breathe” YU. But how did I get here? How did I go from being the most anxious and solemn student who lurked behind the walls of the Beren campus, to someone “known” or really just a person with a name you know in YU? 

The answer is simple. I took advantage of my voice. In the beginning of my first year, I felt robbed by my inner voice. Everything in my mind would tell me to give up, give in, and just stop because who would notice anyway? This was until discovering the YU Observer. It was the YU Observer that gave me the power to turn up the volume and passionately express all of my thoughts, feelings, and opinions. My first experience was as an editor and then the next year a senior editor, and this year as  the Managing Editor. My journey with the YU Observer has been beyond what words can convey (get it?). I have not only learned so much about myself and how to hone in my writing and editing skills, but  also learned how to be a leader and utilize my voice as a tool to effectuate change. I believe that through my articles and the wonderful community and support system of the YU Observer, I have cultivated my words in order to bring about a true impact on campus. From articles of advocacy for Sephardic influence, to the Academic Integrity affair, and official Beren Judicial Court decisions, I am proud to put my name on every edition of the YU Observer. I believe through each article and edition, we have illustrated how powerful and empowering student voices can be in making a difference on our campuses. 

And I know it may feel that one singular student who cannot move the masses to change things. However, as an individual with a voice, an individual with the power of words and rhetoric, I believe that through my words, change can be effectuated. The phrase “actions speak louder than words,” is a common trope of history. But I fervently disagree. Through words, actions are fueled. They are created and established into being. It was with words that God created the world. Not with actions, but words that yielded existence. Entities and theories, whole ontologies, and ideas first begin with words. 

But what can my words do? I believe that my words can start much-needed and long overdue conversations. But this power to use my voice did not solely come from myself, but also the YU Observer which has continually maintained a sense of community and has enhanced my time in YU. It has come from the opportunities of this student newspaper that has fueled my voice and the echoing heights it can reach. As I take my leave, I am so humbled to have worked with the Editor-in-Chief, Aaron Shaykevich, as well as the leadership team and future heads of the YU Observer, Emily Rose Goldberg and Shira Kramer, who I know will carry on this legacy of instilling the paper with the student voices that fashion the pillars of Yeshiva University.