Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Launched Israeli Leadership Club's "Gateway to Education" Project in Sderot, Israel

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Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's mission to Israel visited the Israeli City of Sderot and launched "Gateway to Education" project sponsored by the Israeli Leadership Club.

Mayor Villaraigosa is heading a group of community leaders to Israel for a weeklong visit. The official goal of the visit is for the Mayor to learn from Israel's security arrangements and implement them at the Los Angeles airport and seaport. The mission also includes information sharing about municipal environmental technology. During the visit, he will meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, President Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski.

To begin his adventure, Mayor Villaraigosa visited Sderot, an Israeli city just a few miles north to the Gaza strip. In the past seven years, the city has been a target of daily rocket attacks by Palestinian terror organizations. The Mayor launched a cutting edge project aimed at providing the children of Sderot with a higher level education, in spite of the high security risk. "Gateway to Education" is an initiative initiated and sponsored by the Israel Leadership Club (ILC), a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles. The ILC (http://www.israelileadership.com) serves as the voice of the Israeli Community in Los Angeles. The organization was established with the goal of shaping of an active and involved LA Israeli-American community.

Last February the organization launched the Live for Sderot campaign (http://www.live4sderot.org) in conjunction with the Israeli Consulate General. The highlight of the campaign was a sold-out live concert at the Wilshire Theater. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and presidential hopefuls Senators Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama and John McCain, sent clear messages of support; Consul General Jacob Dayan, as well as Consul Generals representing countries all around the world, local political and community leaders, and many Hollywood celebrities attended the event. Among the world renowned artists performing that night were Elijah Kelly and Miri Ben-Ari. Local, national, and Israeli media covered the event, highlighting the situation in Sdeort.

One of the goals of the campaign was to raise funds through "ILC Fund for Sderot" which invests in technological solutions to provide satisfactory education to the children of a city that is under constant fire. The Saban Family Foundation and the Jewish Federation are the major contributors to the fund.

Danny Alpert, ILC's Co-Founder and Co-Chairman, is part of the Mayor's mission to Israel. During a memorable speech in the city he said, "Today we mark a significant milestone in fulfilling our commitment to the young generation in Sderot. We mark a key point new stage for the relationship between the community in Los Angeles and the city of Sderot. Together, we provide the children of Sderot with the opportunity to receive proper education just like the children of Los Angeles receive."

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Shoham Nicolet
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