On August 4 , 2020 the lifestyle of the Khalloul family suddenly changed when their first born son, Aram, had a violent seizure. Shadi Khalloul and his wife Oksana rushed him to the Safed (Tzfat) hospital, the closest to the town of Jish, a village in the northern part of Israel, Galilee, on the border with Lebanon.

Shadi Khalloul with his two sons

Many Passages alumni remember meeting Shadi and his family during their travel to Israel. Located in Jish, a village in Northern Israel, Shadi directs the Israeli Christian Aramaic Association (ICAA), an organization that seeks to recognize and revitalize the language and cultural identity of the Aramean people. On Passages trips, participants hear from Shadi and enjoy a lunch prepared by Neveen Elias, a member of the community who directs the Aramean Youth Movement.

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A week after the seizure, Shadi’s son Aram was diagnosed GBM grade 4, one of the most dangerous brain tumors. Since the cancer had already caused a stroke, Aram was immediately transferred to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, where it was decided to urgently operate on him.

The medical team managed to remove 80% of the tumor and sent it immediately to labs for pathological analysis. Miraculously, Aram woke up after this extremely dangerous procedure and was able to move his arms and legs. He tried to speak, but it was impossible to decipher his words. The tumor was located in proximity of the brain area that controls comprehension, speech and motor skills.

A week later, the Khalloul family received a terrible prognosis: in cases like Aram’s, the patients do not typically survive longer than one or two years after the diagnosis.

After the first medical procedure at the Rambam, Aram underwent a second dangerous surgery at the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. The goal was to remove what was left of the tumor and grant Aram some time for more treatments to come. The second surgery was another incredible success.

Unfortunately, due to the extremely aggressive nature of this brain cancer, Aram must receive advanced treatments recently developed in the United States. One of them is called ICTriplex. It is a combination of immunotherapy, chemotherapy, and a third targeted treatment. There is no certainty, but for Aram this could mean the difference between life and death.

We are asking that the Passages family help us support Shadi and his family during this difficult time.

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Aram is a child full of life. He enjoys swimming, playing the trumpet, and programming new games on the computer. He also loves going out for a walk with his parents and brother to pick strawberries and mushrooms, produce that is common for their region. Aram is surrounded by the love of his family, friends, and classmates from the Nof Harim school in Kibbutz Sasa: Noam and Inbar from the kibbutz itself, Yoav from Amuka, Yaheli from Kerem Ben Zimra and Wisam from the Horfesh Druze village. They grew up together and they are not aware of the differences between Jews, Christians and other identities. For them, Aram is simply a friend whose life they treasure.

We are partnering with the Philos Project to raise $40,000 for the family’s medical expenses by the end of November. You can donate here. We’d also encourage you to reach out with kind words and to pray for their family during this difficult time.

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