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A Vintage Homecoming

August 5, 2008
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Cohen, who was born in Israel, was raised in Manchester in an orthodox Jewish home. More recently, Yaniv lived in Highgate, London. He had studied Zionism, and it inspired him. He did well at university and built up an impressive resume for his NBN application. He worked as client relations supervisor for CMC Markets, a leading provider of foreign exchange trading, so he felt he had suitable qualifications to make a new life in Israel. Little did he know what was to come.

“How would you like to drive to Israel in a 1948 vintage Rolls-Royce?” 

Cohen jumped at the chance. We are not sure whether Bible prophecy and a vintage Rolls-Royce have ever been connected before! What followed was indeed a unique and exhilarating event.

The head-spinning process was shared with Alexander (Aly) Singer, 28, from Stanmore, Middlesex. He also built valuable credentials for his future. Aly, with a degree in chemistry, worked as a tax advisor for Ernst & Young. His dream of aliyah was inspired by his Jewish education and an active involvement in the Jewish youth movement, Bnei Akiva. He regards Israel as his religious and spiritual home and very conveniently will continue his association with Ernst & Young.

The mode of transport is what has captured the imagination for so many. Yaniv and Aly were given a 1948 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith for their aliyah adventure. The organizers of the Jewish National Fund (JNF)–United Kingdom Car Rally, a prominent humanitarian and environmental supporter for projects in Israel, chose the 1948 model to connect with the birth of Israel as a nation and its 60th anniversary celebrations. Twenty-five cars were scheduled to arrive during the festivities, but not before an amazing 2,500 mile (4,023 kilometer) journey.

The Journey Begins

The memorable drive started from Central London’s Waterloo Place. The classic and contemporary cars were waved away on their 18-day journey by Israel’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ron Proser, who was joined by the mayor of Westminster. It was a head-turning sight! The convoy was led through the streets of London, accompanied by a jazz band traveling in a Morris Trafalgar. From Dover, the rally drivers crossed to France and then drove on to Switzerland, Italy, and Greece. The cars were then transferred to an El Al Cargo 747 Jumbo, where they flew to Tel Aviv and an overwhelming welcome.

Before they arrived in Israel, Yaniv wrote these words for a blog published by The Jerusalem Post: “I am writing this from the balcony from our hotel at the top of Mount Olympus on what will be my last day and indeed Shabbat [Sabbath] in the galut [exile or the Diaspora]. Israel is merely a coach ride and a quick flight across the Med[iterranean]; the rest of my life living out my Zionist ideals and becoming the man I know I can be is literally right in front of my face and I am ready to embrace it.”

  These inspiring young men started their Israel homecoming by driving from Tel Aviv to the missile-battered town of Sderot. Yaniv Cohen said, “We were greeted by crowds applauding and cheering. We gave children rides in the cars. Many asked to inspect the vehicles and check the engines. It was a memorable welcome.” They drove south to Eilat and finished in a spectacular welcome at the Knesset (Parliament) in Jerusalem, where Speaker of the Parliament Member of Knesset Dalia Itzik presented Yaniv and Aly with their new Israeli identity cards.

“This rally is a true reflection of the creativity and passion of British Zionism, and we are thrilled to be facilitating the aliyah of Aly and Yaniv and making their absorption easier,” said NBN Chairman Tony Gelbart.


Photo Credit: Photos by Yossi Zeliger

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