A 13-year-old boy was honored Tuesday night by the City Council for raising money to purchase an ambulance for the city of Ashkelon, Israel Sacramento's newest sister city.
Robert Leeds of Los Angeles asked that guests at his bar mitzvah donate money to buy the ambulance in lieu of gifts. The ambulance is a Magen David Adom vehicle. The MDA is Israel's Red Cross.
"I realize that in life I have been very blessed," Leeds said in a statement released by Councilman Steve Cohn's office. "This is my Bar Mitzvah statement and the responsibility that I am taking on. It's my hope to show Israel and the city of Ashkelon that I stand with them and that's what becoming a man means to me."
Cohn said "this is a great story of a young man seeing a need and making a difference." The ambulance dedication was sponsored by the MDA and StandWithUs, a nonprofit Israeli educational organization.
The City Council voted in August to designate Ashkelon as Sacramento's 10th sister city. An ancient coastal city, Ashkelon is about eight miles from Israel's border with the Gaza Strip.
The decision to link with Ashkelon was a controversial one; some Palestinian supporters argued that Palestinian Americans living in Sacramento who have Israeli-issued identification would have a difficult time visiting Ashkelon because of travel restrictions.
The council voted unanimously in supporting the recognition.