SDEROT, Israel - A 13-year-old boy from New York donated his parents' Bar Mitzvah gift to build a playground for the children of Sderot.
"I felt bad during the war for the children of Sderot, who had to go to school and come back with the constant thought they could be hit by a Kassam rocket at any given second," said Benjamin Sternklar Davis, who celebrated his Bar Mitzvah in Sderot.
The $40,000 gift will be used to build a park with recreational facilities, the municipality said.
Sderot Mayor David Buskila presented the Bar Mitzvah boy with a talit (prayer shawl) as a token of appreciation from the children of Sderot.
Buskila met the boy's family last year during a trip to the States organized by the Jewish Agency. On the trip, the Sderot mayor met with American Jewish groups that donate funds to Israeli causes.
"Benjamin kept asking me how the children in Sderot were doing during the war [Israel's three-week military operation in the Gaza Strip last January]," said Benjamin's mother, Sarah Sternklar, founder of "Moms for Israel: A Campaign for Sderot."
"He wanted to know how they were coping. He could have given it [the Bar Mitzvah gift] to any organization, but he chose Sderot," she said.
Boys celebrate their Bar Mitzvah (meaning "son of the commandment") on their 13th birthday by being called up to the bema (raised platform at the front of the synagogue) to read the weekly Torah portion for the first time.
After his Bar Mitzvah, a boy may be included in a minyan (group of 10 men), the minimum number needed for a public prayer service.
In the Conservative and Reform streams of Judaism, girls celebrate their Bat Mitzvah (daughter of the commandment) at age 12.