Pittsburgh has always been a place of healing for my family. Twice, my daughter, Ava, who is now 15, has been hospitalized there at the Children's Institute.
The Institute, which specializes in helping children who have chronic pain, sits across Shady Lane from Tree of Life Congregation.
Saturday morning 11 people were killed there and many others were injured when a person filled with hate brought a gun into the synagogue during a baby naming ceremony on Shabbat.
For that family and the other families who had loved ones there on Saturday, this synagogue and the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh will always be linked with a moment of horror and lasting pain.
For my family, the Squirrel Hill area has been a magical place. When Ava was there for three weeks in February 2016, and again for two weeks in December 2017, she learned how to work through pain and how to find her joy again.
The medical community and the Jewish community embraced us there. The medical community healed her, as they are healing those who have survived Saturday's attack.
The Jewish community gave us a home away from home. They welcomed us with challah and Shabbat candles brought to our room. They extended multiple invitations for dinner and lunches for me and welcomed me in one of their congregations on a Shabbat morning with record low temperatures outside, but warmth of friendships inside.
That one Hanukkah that Ava spent there, the Hanukkiah menorah that was on display at the Tree of Life Congregation across the street brought a smile to her face. It acknowledge her and the holiday she was celebrating.
For the first time in her life, she was in a place, a neighborhood, where as many, perhaps more, Hanukkah decorations were on display as Christmas decorations. She was not the odd-man out. We heard actual Hanukkah music in the stores there, not just Christmas music.
Pittsburgh gave so much to us. Now, if we had to go back there to deal with a pain crisis, there would be a new pain. We would look across the street and remember the Hanukkiah, but also remember Oct. 27, 2018, and the horror that unfolded there.
Today, we send a prayer for healing to the Pittsburgh community, Jewish and not, and to Tree of Life, which gave us strength just by being our temporary neighbors.