Shortly after a gunman held congregants hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, a young Christian woman visited the rabbi, bringing him flowers and expressing her sympathy and concern. The woman was a representative of the Philos Action League, which is part of a Christian organization called the Philos Project. Maggie Phillips explains its mission:
The Philos Project was founded in 2014 to increase understanding and appreciation for both Judaism and Israel. In 2021, it launched the Philos Action League (PAL), a network of on-call volunteers around the country ready to show up whenever and wherever anti-Semitic attacks occur. Their volunteers often arrive with white roses in hand to show both their Jewish neighbors and the world at large that they stand with the Jewish community. If there is vandalism at a synagogue or cemetery, they place a bouquet of white roses on the site. If there is an anti-Israel demonstration, they stand with the counter-protesters. If there is violence, they show up at the hospital (or memorial site) with a bouquet.
The Philos CEO and founder Robert Nicholson said over the phone that his aim with Philos is to help Christians understand that anti-Semitism “didn’t stop with Hitler.” He began the organization to address what he saw as the problem of American Christians’ poor understanding of (and engagement with) Judaism and Israel.
The idea for PAL was born with the staffer Hannah Garces suggesting members show up with white roses as a tribute to German anti-Nazi activists Hans and Sophie Scholl, who were guillotined by the regime in 1943 for their roles in the student-led White Rose resistance movement.