The feet surrounding me start vibrating and the smiles reflecting back at me widen as the pump up music sets us 8,000 10k runners off. My overly exhausted iPhone gripped asleep in my palms allows me the freedom from media and my thoughts of gratitude motivate my stride. The Knesset looks behind me and the many Jerusalem hills wave hello as shouts of support rain from the crowds.

Siting in the eloquently dim restaurant with my visiting cousins, I attempt to answer the reoccurring question of what on earth my parents did to raise us Herrings to grow up into the individuals we are today.
“A whole lot of love and in the best kind of way” finally tickles out of my lips.

Through allowing me as a kindergardener to choose my school, as a 8 year old to define my hobbies, as a teenager to form their blueprints into my reality, and now as a 19 year old to uplift my sense of Jewish nationality; my parents have imprinted an innate confidence in asserting self choice.

The walls of the old city welcome me as I run down to the 7k marker. The spring sunshine reminiscent of San Diego godliness beats down on us and I passing by a few students from my school, I exclaim euphoria at the glory of the view. Remarks of approval of a very “Talya” thing to say dance in my hair and I connect my general appreciation to my parents. By their stubborn perseverance to infuse self worth into our upbringing, the understanding of gratitude fell into place. Attention to global history and history of self guide me to comprehend the beauty in humility. And my parents’ sacrifices for us ingrain an awareness of a forward thinking mindset.

Shabbat at the Kotlers (my newly discovered third cousins) mimic the liveliness of Herring meals. Transport the location of my knowledgeable Pops and adorably snugly Momma into Jerusalem for the past 30 years and pretty much you get the idea.

The joy of connecting to new family reminds me of the completely ridiculous level of love I have for my parents and siblings. I thirst for the phone calls; especially the Aliyah questioning bombardment. Their incessant dissection, probing the microscopic cells of my plan demonstrate that our love is plenty mutual. My parents’ love for me whispers in their understanding of why I am traveling to Poland to connect to our heritage, how my hair will never calm down, why the words of the Torah spark self discovery for myself, that my love affair with the outdoors and adventure sweeps me in, and that the dichotomy between our physical distance and heightens our emotional closeness.

To my parents who continuously inspire me to identify my growth in tangible pursuits, I love you beyond words. I don’t know how exactly you raised us. I’m not sure what discussions of values and discipline you enacted. I can’t fully comprehend the intensity of your sacrifices for us. I can’t even dispute the fact that you guys had a whole history before my existence, an elevated narrative of the past years, and an insight into the future that I presume must be fed to you by aliens. Therefore, I only attempt to write about love that was funneled through my eyesight. My cognition contains a footprint of your efforts and I for one, am so thankful for that. I love you for how much you make me, me and how much you allow me to continue to find me.