I can hardly believe that it has been twelve years since our beautiful daughter Emunah Shira, of blessed memory, came into and left this world.

As we approached her Bat Mitzvah year - what would have been a milestone in her life (and ours) - I tried to hone in on how I wanted to commemorate it, if at all. Each year on her yortzeit, the date of her passing, I do something that is meaningful for me. It is usually small and personal (a walk in nature, learning with my husband or a friend; one year I gave a class for a group of women). This year, perhaps because of the significance of it being her would be Bat Mitzvah year, I felt that I wanted to do something bigger. I decided to invite a group of women over for a special meal to commemorate the event.

The message of her short life made such a profound impact on so many peopleWhen Emunah Shira was born, twelve years ago, it was the most challenging thing we had ever dealt with. And yet she changed our lives forever and the message of her short life made such a profound impact on so many people.

She stengthened our faith. She taught us not to ask "why?" (lama in Hebrew) but rather "to what" (le-ma which is the same word pronounced differently). Understanding the "why" is not in our job description. There is Someone much greater than us in charge of that. Our job is to find the potential in every situation and grow. I felt that sharing time together with a group of women would be a way of keeping Emunah Shira's messages alive.

Twelve years ago we had two healthy children in our lives, and one miscarriage behind us. I was pregnant and had experienced a pretty wonderful full term pregnancy with absolutely no complications. All of the tests were perfectly fine. The birth itself was also really wonderful. I was thrilled. Emunah Shira was born.

As soon as she was born, the midwife saw that she was having some trouble breathing and her color was off. They whisked her to the nursery to examine her. My husband went with them. The nurses heated her up, made sure she was fine, and brought her back to me all wrapped up to keep her warm. I was so happy to have my baby back.

As I nursed her, I noticed that she was purple. I asked my labor coach to call the midwife. She came immediately, took one look, and whisked her off again. This whole scene is a bit of a blur. My husband went with them again and this time they did a number of tests, called in the top neonatal cardiologist in the country and within four hours we had a full diagnosis.

The cardiologist was wonderful and explained in detail our baby's condition. She had two different problems with her heart; each complicated the other and her situation was far from simple. He suggested that she stay where she was to get the care that she needed and we would wait until she grew to a weight that would make treatment easier. There was a specialist in Boston who had experience with this type of condition, but he had never treated a baby so small. The goal was for her to grow to a weight that he felt he could handle and we would be off to Boston.

Talk about having your life turned upside down in a moment.

Everyone said that the problem should have shown up on the twenty-one week ultrasound but the truth is that it was a blessing that it didn't as there was nothing we could have done at that point. Further, at the time we were coordinators of an educational program called Livnot U'Lehibanot in Tzfat.

The few months prior to the birth were filled with tremendous challenges including major medical issues of some of the students. I can't imagine dealing with intense prenatal issues on top of everything else we were facing. For us the lack of knowledge was truly a blessing. Looking back afterwards, we really felt that the challenges of those months helped us develop the tools to deal with this sudden and huge change in our lives.

For us the lack of knowledge was truly a blessingThe three month Livnot program in Tzfat always spends a week or so in Jerusalem. We had successfully planned that week around my due date so we were not only in Jerusalem, but a few blocks away from the hospital when I went into labor. As soon as we realized that Emunh Shira had a serious health problem, we were instantly relieved of all of our duties at Livnot. It just so happened that this was our last program and the couple who was switching us as program coordinators had been using this program as a learning program. Well, now they were in charge and we were in coping mode.

Having watched my pregnancy develop, and having anticipated the birth, the group was seriously affected by the news.

After much deliberation and consultation about whether we should name our baby right away or wait until her condition was more stable, we decided to name her with the group. Having shared the months of my pregnancy together, it was important to them and to us to share this moment. We all needed a name to pray for. We called her Shira after my grandmother, and Emunah which means "faith" because we were in a place in life where our faith was growing and it was a focus of our lives.

They say that one of the only contexts where prophecy still exists is when parents name a child. We had experienced this very strongly with our two older boys (who were almost five and two and a half at the time) but this time it ended up being even more remarkable. The experience of her life was the biggest faith booster we could have ever imagined.

We had a very intense and meaningful baby naming with the group. They were a group of young adults who were trying to find a connection with their Judaism. It was clear to us that each and every one of them needed to be at this place at this time to go through this with us. We all were supposed to experience this together and grow from it together and we really did just that.

Being in a very public position at a time like this (a call had been put out to all past participants to pray for our daughter...) meant that the calls and emails of love and support kept pouring in. There was a line up of people offering to take care of our other kids and the flow of food was continuous. We were clearly not in this alone! That gave us much needed strength.

I had been blessed with the opportunity of nursing Emunah Shira after the birth which was very important to me. I then pumped for her and she was fed by a tube because the exertion of nursing would be too hard on her heart. She was in the NICU and the staff there was absolutely amazing. I couldn't have asked for kinder more dedicated staff.

One time when I walked in, I saw a nurse holding our baby while treating another, because ours had been crying and the exertion wasn't good for her heart. I was moved to tears by this expression of caring and dedication. Our baby was not lacking love.

My husband had brought our other children to the hospital so see her a couple of times. They had drawn pictures for me to put up on the wall in my room. I decided to take one of them and turn it into a name sign for Emunah Shira's bedside. I went with my two-year-old to the NICU to put it on her bassinet.

I asked the staff if I could bring her to the door of the NICU so that my son could see her from up close. Until then they had only been able to see her from through the window. I was granted permission. It was a very intense moment for my son (and of course for me as well.) He was so young but that moment created a very strong connection for him towards his sister. He was able to see her up close, talk to her and touch her. It was very emotional and moving.

I had not really considered the option of her dyingEmunah Shira was born on a Monday. On Friday morning I went in to see her. While I had of course spent much time with her touching and stroking her since her birth, now I gathered the courage to ask the nurses if I could nurse her again. It was so important to me and I was thrilled when they let me nurse her for a few minutes. During that visit I also decided to take a picture of her. In all the tumult of the birth we hadn't taken any pictures. I wished her a Shabbat Shalom and went back to Livnot with every intention of coming back on Shabbat to spend some time with her.

That picture remains the only picture we have of her.

We had given the hospital staff all of the possible phone numbers to call if they needed to reach us on Shabbat and with a bit of trepidation off we went. We had a beautiful Shabbat dinner with our kids. At some point while we were joyfully singing Shabbat songs we noticed the sound of phone ringing, from the office, from our cell... We realized that maybe the hospital was trying to reach us.

We walked over to the hospital and on the door there was a sign that indicated that someone had passed away. I was so sad and wondered who it was but I didn't give much thought to it. I just wanted to see how my baby was doing.

When we walked into the NICU and saw the look on the nurses' faces it all of a sudden hit me that the sign was because of our baby. I couldn't believe it. That wasn't part of the plan. She was supposed to grow bigger and we were going to fly to Boston. I had not really considered the option of her dying.

I don't think I have every cried so hard in my life.

We went to see the Livnot group on Sunday morning so that whomever wanted to see/speak with us could. After we spoke with them one of the participants came up to me and shared with me that a similar thing had happened to his parents before he was born. Talking to him was really important to me and I was so grateful that he had shared that with me. To me he represented my future children and that filled me with hope.

The weeks and months that followed were truly hard. One of my strongest memories was dealing with the "why?" question and so completely coming to the conclusion that understanding why is not in our job description. As soon as I was able to let go of that, it was much easier to find the good and grow. And that is exactly what we did. We allowed ourselves to hurt and cry and be loved and supported by those around us. We became so clear as to why we had named her Emunah, meaning faith as that was what we needed more than anything.There was no question that Someone higher that us had guided each and every step along the way. From not knowing about her condition in advance, to sending the couple to switch us at Livnot right at that time, we knew that everything had happened for a reason.

Our lives since then have been a series of events and circumstances that continue to strengthen our faith in our Creator, our search for meaning in life, and our ability to see the good in things and grow from challenges.

So when it came to the yortzeit of our daughter's Bat Mitzvah year, I really felt moved to invite a group of women over to a semi pot luck breakfast of sharing and thought and song. I asked everyone to bring something to share on the subjects of Emunah (faith), Shira (song), or Bat mitzvah. I spoke some and answered questions. Those who were moved to speak did.

One friend brought a guitar. She had been through an extremely challenging birth and post birth of twins just over two years ago, and her guitar had helped her through it in a very meaningful way. Since one of the themes was song, she played and sang a song that had helped her through her tough time.

His note asked G‑d that Emunah Shira smile up in heavenThe women were visibly moved by what we shared. I felt very blessed!And I was taken by how much the women whom I invited (including those who didn't make it) wanted to be there. It felt important. It felt like it made an impact. As women we spend a lot of energy doing for and giving to others. It is a huge blessing to be able to do that. The reality is that we can benefit from any opportunity to be together and help charge each others' batteries.

Once everyone left - the house was already mostly clean thanks to some helpful friends - the rest of the morning passed fairly regularly. On my way to pick up my son from kindergarten, I utilized the time to have a private chat with G‑d. In the group atmosphere of the meal, the one thing that was lacking was my own personal reflective moment. Thankfully the walk gave me that.

When my seven-year-old came home from school, he handed me a piece of paper. It was something that they had done at school that day. They had prepared a note to put in the Western Wall. His note asked G‑d that Emunah Shira smile up in heaven. Tears came to my eyes. It was such a sweet, pure thought.

Later in the afternoon my cellphone rang. One of my son's names appeared on the screen. His maturity was beyond his years from a very young age. As such her short life affected him very much and he always felt very connected to her. In general our policy with our kids was to be very open and talk about the whole story. We didn't hide anything and encouraged them to talk about it in any way they wanted. Over the years this particular son had wanted to light a memorial candle for her in his classroom. He had made a plaque with her name on it in day camp, and it still hangs on the door of his closet until this day.

On this day his class was on a trip to Jerusalem. Unbeknown to me, he had arranged to leave the group to take care of something personal and rejoin them later. That was when I got the call. He asked me where I thought he was calling from and after a couple of guesses, he revealed to me that he had gone to be by his sister's graveside. After I thought about it, I realized that it totally suited him to do this. My first reaction though was still to be moved to tears, firstly that he did this at all, and in many ways even more significantly, that he called me. Although he is a deep, feeling and caring person, he keeps a lot of it to himself. Yet something moved him to share this moment with me. I thanked him so much. It meant so much to me.

So that was how we commemorated our Emunah Shira's yortzeit. May Emunah Shira's memory be blessed! And may we all grow through our challenges, remembering to ask "Le'ma" (to what) and not "Lama" (why?) when challenges do come our way.