I stood amid a sea of blue and white, spanning two miles (three kilometers) – the entirety of the National Mall. It was the largest pro-Israel rally in US history. At 290,000 people, it surpassed in number even the famous March on Washington in 1963, when Martin Luther King Jr. gave the famous “I Have a Dream Speech” in front of 250,000 people.
A group of women who looked to be my mom’s age walked by me and 700 other Christians who had flown in from across the country to stand with Israel and the Jewish people. These women were wearing scarves, sunglasses, and shirts with the Star of David. They stopped when they saw our signs which read “Christians stand with Israel.”
“Thank you for coming today,” one of them said with feeling.
Another reached out her hand, and I took it.
The third woman said, “We love you.”
“We love you,” I replied.
That happened many times. With many more people. Jewish families and individuals seeing our signs and shirts and smiling in a surprised and relieved sort of way. They waved. They took pictures, maybe as evidence to share with their loved ones, that they are not alone.
A week before the rally, Passages prepared to send 500 people – thanks to our generous partners. Within just a few days of announcing the opportunity to our network, those spots had been filled with Passages alumni and friends in the Christian community. The turnout was far more than we expected.
Before our group began the walk to the National Mall, Passages CEO Scott Phillips addressed the audience with this charge: “Let’s go live history. Let’s take up the call God has given us, and let’s go stand with Israel and the Jewish people.”
Our chief advancement officer, Paul Weber, also shared: “We’re called as Christians to stand for Israel and her people worldwide, beginning – I said beginning, not ending – right here in our capital, Washington, DC. And from Washington, DC to New York and New York to LA, from UCLA to Georgetown, and Georgetown to Harvard and to the University of Illinois, and to Arizona State, to Louisiana State and to every campus in the United States of America.”
AT PASSAGES we are compelled by our Christian faith to advocate for our Jewish brothers and sisters. We stand against antisemitism that was already increasing at an alarming rate before October 7, and since then, has more than tripled – an unprecedented increase. The Jewish people globally live in fear of violence as reports of heinous acts against them circulate. Even in the Dallas suburbs – where the Passages headquarters are located – Jewish people feel the need to hide their identity to protect themselves and their families.
As Christians, we cannot let this continue.
The Christian bond to the Jewish people
The history and roots of our faith wouldn’t exist without the Jewish people. Christians should appreciate, admire, and learn from this Jewish heritage. We are connected through common scriptures and shared values of moral clarity, human dignity, self-determination, and the Jewish concept of tikkun olam – healing the world and caring for the disenfranchised. All of this alone would be enough to bring us together.
But, in the wake of such horrors the world hasn’t seen since the Holocaust, the need for Christians to stand side-by-side with Jews has never been clearer, nor more urgent.
We showed up with 700 of our people because we wanted Jewish friends to see our t-shirts and signs that read “Christians stand with Israel” and let them know they’re not alone.
We wanted our words of support to be backed with action. And we want, in generations to come, for Israel and the Jewish people to find in their Christian neighbors not only allyship, but also friendship – especially when it matters most.
That’s what Passages is here to do.
Our mission is to bring emerging Christian leaders to Israel to experience the roots of their faith and to build bridges of allyship and friendship with the Jewish people and the State of Israel. When the events of October 7 took place, the Passages team and alumni were ready to stand with Israel in practical ways.
Some of our leadership arrived in Israel in the days after the massacre to meet with those directly affected and express our firmest solidarity.
In the weeks leading up to the rally, our team has worked to mobilize our alumni across the United States.
Hundreds of alumni have attended and helped organize pro-Israel events, delivered white roses and messages of solidarity to Jewish synagogues in their hometowns, hosted prayer vigils on their college campuses for the hostages, and posted on social media to combat the rampant misinformation and propaganda perpetuated by Hamas and their supporters.
Christians of all ages across the US have joined a daily prayer movement for Israel and contributed to a fundraiser to support two communities that Passages students visit on their trips to Israel – Netiv Ha’Asara and Kfar Aza. So far, Passages has raised almost $600,000, with a goal of reaching $1 million in the coming months. The funding will be used in three ways: to provide for the urgent needs of families most impacted by Hamas’ brutality, to help the communities remain together while they are displaced, and to fund future rebuilding and memorial efforts in those communities.
As Christians, it’s not enough to just say we stand with Israel and the Jewish people.
We must show up.
There’s something about showing up that makes it personal. It leaves an indelible mark on the human spirit to encounter three Jewish women, mothers and grandmothers who remind us of our own, living with such visceral fear and trauma, and yet gratitude at being seen and supported by Christians.
So, we must make what affects our Jewish friends personal to us. We must show up. Hold signs. Wear shirts. Hold a hand. Say, “I love you” and that we will always stand by your side.