Los Angeles boy raises funds for two ambulances for Israel

Robert Leeds of Los Angeles chose to forgo gifts for his bar mitzvah. Sort of.

Instead, when bar mitzvah invitations were mailed, the return card stated, “In lieu of gifts, let’s come together and do a very special act of kindness in our holy land. Join hands and put a lifesaving ambulance on the ground in Israel. Please send your tax-deductible contribution in Robert’s honor to MDA,” [Magen David Adom], the Israeli-based emergency response agency.

His parents, Dina and Fred Leeds, could not have been more proud of their 13-year-old son. But they didn’t dream that the gifts would add up to enough money for two ambulances.

More than 800 people attended Robert’s Beatles-themed bar mitzvah and generously responded to the family’s request. As guests followed the red carpet to enter the Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Airport, where the reception was held, they were flanked by two different types of MDA ambulances, reminding them of the cause to which they had donated.

Entertainment included multiple musical groups, a breakdance ensemble, jugglers, acrobats, the USC Band, and more.

During the course of the evening, American Friends of Magen David Adom CEO Arnold Gerson presented Robert with the Maimonides Award, making him the youngest recipient ever.

”This was our way of helping to cushion some of the difficult times that the Jewish people have endured in our homeland,” said Dina Leeds. “We know that MDA provides blood for the entire country, including the Israel Defense Forces”

“It’s my hope to show Israel and the Jewish people that I stand with them and that’s what becoming a man means to me,” said Robert. “My family was in Israel a few years ago and we toured the MDA National Blood Services Center Blood Center with AFMDA Israel Representative Jonathan Feldstein, which made an impact on all of us.”