Robert Leeds, 13, who has lived in the Californian city of Sacramento all his life, recently made his first decision as an adult – to donate the money he received for his bar mitzvah to Israel.
Leeds, who watched the news reports on Operation Pillar of Defense
on television, decided to help an Israeli city which was hit by rockets from Gaza just a few months ago.
He collected the money he received during his coming of age ceremony and purchased an ambulance for the city of Ashkelon, which has a sister-city agreement with his hometown.
"I asked the guests for money in bar mitzvah gifts in order to pay for the purchase," said Leeds. "I understand that I have been blessed in life, so I have taken it upon myself to stand by the city of Ashkelon and Israel through this donation."
Robert Leeds (second from the right) near ambulance
Leeds was thanked for his donation in a ceremony held in Sacramento, which was attended by City Council dignitaries and leaders of the local Jewish and Christian communities. The city of Ashkelon was represented by Gideon Lustig, Israel's deputy consul general.
Lustig awarded Leeds and the Magen David Adom Friends organization with a merit certificate on behalf of the city of Ashkelon. The ambulance, worth hundreds of thousands of shekels, has been transported to the MDA station in the southern city.
Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin thanked Leeds for his donation, saying: "On behalf of the city of Ashkelon, I would like to thank this boy for a move which should not be taken for granted. His donation for the purchase of an ambulance for the residents of Ashkelon is an act which points to a kind heart.
"On behalf of the city's residents I conveyed my great appreciation for him. There is no doubt that his donation will serve its purpose well, and I have sent him a large thank you card with an invitation to visit Ashkelon."