She is a survivor in every sense of the word. Noya Dahan is the youngest shooting victim in April's deadly attack at a Poway synagogue and, this past Sunday, she celebrated an important milestone: turning 9 years old.
The girl's birthday comes just a few months after a 19-year-old opened fire at Chabad of Poway synagogue on the last day of Passover.
The April 27 shooting spree killed worshipper Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, and injured Noya, her uncle and Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein. Noya suffered shrapnel wounds to her leg and face and was treated at a children's hospital.
Noya's parents had moved to Poway from Israel after they had been injured by rocket fire, hoping to find a safe place to raise their family.
"Thank you for coming and making this happen. I don’t know what to say honestly," Noya told those who gathered for her birthday party Sunday.
The party was a surprise for the girl, hosted by Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe.
She got a unicorn cake with special gifts from The Children's Museum, the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld.
"She got really shocked when she saw it today, she didn’t even know it was happening," said Noya's father, Israel Dahan.
Israel Dahan said life has been difficult since the synagogue attack but said support from the community is helping his family through the trauma.
"It’s been a lot to us we’ve been going through a lot of issues the last couple of months," said Dahan.
Noya has been getting medical check-ups to keep an eye on her injuries. There are two other pieces of shrapnel still in her leg, her father explained.
"She has a doctor appointment tomorrow; she might need to do a little surgery. Just taking the shrapnel out because it started getting infected and painful for her," Dahan said. "But other than that, she is fine."
Guests at the party included Noya's family, friends, California State SenatorBrian Jones and Rabbi Goldstein.