City Beat

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January 8, 2013
Boy raises money to buy ambulance for Sacramento sister city in Israel

A 13-year-old boy will be honored by the City Council tonight for raising money to purchase an ambulance for the city of Ashkelon, Israel - Sacramento's newest sister city.

Robert Leeds, a lad from 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 (MDA) 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 City Council voted in August to designate Ashkelon as Sacramento's 10th sister city. An ancient costal city, Ashkelon sits 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 support of the recognition. Ashkelon was chosen as a sister city after 2009, when the council voted to name the West Bank city of Bethlehem a sister city.

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at rlillis@sacbee.com

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