In lieu of gifts, NY bar mitzva boy sponsors ambucycle

After raising over $30,000, thousands of people in Israel can be helped and lives saved, thanks to Low and his own personal mitzva.

311_Low family bar mitzva (photo credit: Courtesy)
311_Low family bar mitzva
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Instead of collecting cellular phones or other gadgets as bar mitzva presents, Gabe Low of New York asked his guests to donate or raise money to purchase a lifesaving ambucycle for United Hatzalah in Israel.
Low – who is a fervent fan of the Mets baseball team, plays the drums and speaks Mandarin Chinese – is just a regular kid with a loving family, good grades in school and many friends.
But when plans for his bar mitzva in Israel were being made, Low told his parents, Lisa and Nathan, and his five siblings that he wanted something different, something that would do some good.
His father described some of the philanthropic causes to which he donated or volunteered, and United Hatzalah – the voluntary first-aid and rescue organization in Israel – most appealed to Low. The idea of a medic racing on a specially equipped motorcycle that can quickly reach the sick and injured fascinated him.
So the invitations were printed with an insert asking that gifts be replaced with donations for the ambucycle, and a website enabling online donations was launched, with a “thermometer” showing how much had been donated. With gifts from $36 to $3,600, the goal seemed attainable.
His siblings – Michael, 11; Anna, 10; Sam, eight; Ella, six; and Amiel, four – wanted to help out in the campaign and set up a lemonade stand on the hot Labor Day weekend. A long line of cars with thirsty passengers netted another $100 for the cause.
The bar mitzva was held this week in the succa of Kibbutz Ramat Rahel outside Jerusalem. An oddly shaped object covered by fabric stood out in the hall. But what was underneath was clear, due to the presence of United Hatzalah medics among the guests. When the organization’s chief coordinator Eli Beer had Low describe his unusual bar mitzva project and unveil the centerpiece, everyone applauded.
The blue, white and red ambucycle will be based in Tel Aviv and manned by medic Elad Nissanholtz, known as the “Angel of the Ayalon” for his lifesaving efforts in the region. As the event began to wind down, people rushed over to donate more.
By the end of the event, well over $30,000 had been raised – and thousands of people in Israel can be helped and lives saved, thanks to Low and his own personal mitzva.