Talya Herring

Here we sing.

I’m standing in a sea of Jewish people. I look to the right and see the names of Naftali, Gil-ad, and Eyal light up the side of the Tel Aviv city hall, their faces on t-shirts and signs that swim around my dizzy skeleton. The spiritual anxiety I pat in my pocket can’t compare to the pain of the three women embracing the nation as the mothers of us all. The sting in my eyes and the chills rolling up my arms, the cracking voice joining the unified singing… I look over to a father grasping his young son, tears building up in empathy of every parents’ nightmare.

The rally continues to mold into a celebration of the individuals we are in search of and as Naftali’s mom talks of all their summer plans including driving lessons, I contemplate all the plans I am in the process of actualizing, including the same driving lessons. Their short lives were so deeply lived. I rock back and forth, breathing in the rhythm of my nation, the ache of our constant challenge in survival and continual dedication to support our family members.

I am amazed by the difference in sensations; existing in the location of the Jewish story in contrast to growing up in the footnotes of the evolving chapter book. I feel on page. Current. As if I am sitting right next to the author, peaking over his shoulder, watching each letter flow from his pen. I can smell the ink drying and witness the smudges that we wish wouldn’t occur. I don’t need my character in the story to snag the lead role, but the fact that I transplanted myself into the plot allows me the freedom to flourish into whatever role I dream of.

The melodies of thousands of individuals humble me into a dreamy recollection of the holiness of communal singing. It’s Purim at Shachar’s grandparents’ home, overlooking the hills of Samaria, gathering around the festive meal with drums and guitars, singing Dovid’s poetry and the tunes of our ancestors. Instead of alcohol distracting us from spirituality, it’s an induced ecstasy of celebrating with the soul. The thick power of song feels too intense to even exist; too powerful that maybe we should start harnessing this force as alternative energy.

I watch the three inspirational mothers thank us for the support and efforts in joining together. I snap a photo of the lights spelling out “Bring them home” and in less than 24 hours hear in disbelief that we have found their bodies. Flashback to 2nd grade when my parents sat me down to tell me that they found Danielle’s body. My buddy in Girl Scouts that was kidnapped was now back. I feel an immense emotional confusion of grief covered with completion in a search dipped in gratitude for the answering of prayers and smashed in the heartbreak of humanity.

Three days later I am singing again with my people. I am disgusted by some of the responses of revenge to the finding of the three boys, wishing to reject the murderous criminals from my family. I am terrified knowing that rocket warnings blared at Aleh Negev. I am overwhelmed from the flood of blogs and scanning news articles and just breathing seems like an unfair challenge. But the long awaited Idan Raichel concert for soldiers and those in National Service is today and getting lost in the swaying voices once more stitches my wounds with hope of our story’s continuance. I am taken aback by the normality of the concert clothing that apparently exists outside of California. The sunshine that taunts my initial gloominess soon says goodbye and the non judgmental night sky swings in to the internationally diverse musical experience that his project has to offer. Singing with the thousands in the audience, I can savor the same complex taste of singing with my family; crunching on the passionate palette of our anguished story of self redemption.

About the Author
Talya Herring, originally from California, made Aliyah to a Moshav in the Negev for a year of her National Service at Aleh Negev, a rehabilitative village for people with severe disabilities and then worked as a tour guide for her second year of National Service. Now as a law student, she writes her blog to connect her evolving thoughts with friends and family, inspire ideas of self-achievement, and celebrate pride in values.