A delegation of Passages donors, alumni and staff wrapped up a weeklong solidarity mission, including traveling to the Gaza Envelope, to express their friendship and provide a donation of $500,000 to Jewish communities there.
The delegation visited Netiv HaAsara and Kfar Aza, two of the hardest-hit communities in the Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas terrorists—a place they have brought their delegations several times a year for many years. On Jan. 25, they gave each community a donation of $250,000 and a plaque that expressed solidarity and assistance to help rebuild their communities.
The funds are to go to psychological counseling for some of the younger members of the communities. Passages will make further donations to help with memorial projects and will continue to bring their student delegations to both communities as they have in the past.
“These are two places where we have taken over 11,000 college students on Passages trips in the last eight years,” said Scott Phillips, CEO of Passages, a Christian organization that brings students to Israel to experience the roots of their faith and to build bridges with the Jewish people and the State of Israel. “In these communities live our friends—people we know, people we work with, people our students and alumni have interacted with.”
He added: “And we’ll continue to introduce more and more young Christian leaders in America to Israel’s story.”
In Netiv HaAsara, the Passages delegation visited the cemetery, where they were told the stories of those who were murdered that day, and the moshav itself, where they were shown how Hamas terrorists infiltrated and attacked the community. “I would like to thank Passages because you are the only Christian organization that has donated to our moshav, showing care for our community, and we more than appreciate that,” said Benny Ledom, head of the security committee and a community leader of Netiv HaAsara.
Soldiers who were part of the rescue efforts of the southern communities and those fighting in the Gaza Strip against Hamas operatives came to speak with the delegation, telling them it is vital that more people come to witness what took place there and to advocate for the release of the 136 hostages still being held captive in Gaza.
“After Oct. 7, the Jewish community looked around for friends and allies. The Christian community showed up, and they keep showing up—not just in word but deed,” said Rivka Kidron, co-founder and board member of Passages. “These are communities which Passages students visit on every trip. They lifted up and supported our students, and now we must stand up and support them. Our students will continue coming here to bear witness to this tragedy and stand alongside the State of Israel and the Jewish people, especially in the most difficult times.”
“It’s been a heavy honor visiting Kfar Aza and Netiv HaAsara, talking with residents who walked us through the horrors of 10/7,” said Daniel Anger, a Passages alum. “We share the grief. We earnestly pray for the return of the hostages and for the comfort of many, many people who are suffering such unthinkable loss.”
The delegation also visited the memorial to the victims of the Nova music festival and met with families evacuated from the south. They spoke with Yami and Naomi Weiser, whose son, Staff Sgt. Roey Weiser, was killed while saving 12 of his fellow soldiers on the Erez Crossing base on Oct. 7.
The group visited the Knesset, as well, meeting Knesset members from across the political spectrum. Wearing their distinctive “Christians Stand with Israel” shirts, they were stopped and thanked by passersby, soldiers and even Knesset staff for being such strong allies of Israel.