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Residents of the Galilee, Golan Heights, Tiberias, Dead Sea region, Negev and Jerusalem who have never seen a 1926 Rolls Royce 20 or a 1950 Jaguar XK 150, will have their chance over the next three days as participants in the biennial London-to-Jerusalem car rally cruise around the country.
Established 12 years ago by the JNF UK, the rally takes participants through some dozen European countries before reaching its conclusion in Jerusalem.
The rally is in part a fund-raiser for Aleh Negev, a village-style, state-of-the-art residential and rehabilitation facility that will eventually be home to more than 500 mentally challenged adults and will provide outpatient vocational guidance, therapy and other services to some 12,000 children and young adults with mental disabilities each year.
The JNF is helping to develop the grounds and has made available its landscape planners who are aware of the need to stimulate the residents with beautiful, sweet smelling surrounds of herb and flower gardens as well as trees.
JNF UK has already contributed more than $1 million to Aleh Negev, and the biennial rally, traditionally sponsored by Rebecca and Charlie Sherling of Sherling Steel in Dublin, is yet another way of contributing to this cause.
Well known British race-car driver Martin Hone is managing the rally, and the oldest participant is Hilary Clive, 92, a veteran of close to a dozen car rallies.
On Tuesday morning the drivers will visit Aleh Negev, near Ofakim, which was declared a national project by a previous government. Construction of the facility began in 2003. Aside from bringing the drivers closer to the cause, the purpose of the visit is to enable residents to see all 30 cars participating in the rally lined up on display.
Not all the cars are antiques. There's also a 2000 Maserati, a 2005 Bentley Continental and a Porsche and a Jaguar which came off the production line this year.
The rally which began at London's Waterloo Place on May 14 will conclude in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening, with Mayor Uri Lupoliansky scheduled to wave drivers across the finish line and to join them at a champagne reception to celebrate a ride that took them from England through France, Switzerland, Italy, Lichtenstein, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey before they arrived in Israel Saturday night.
And to think that not so long ago, it was thought that "Around the World in 80 Days" was pure fiction.
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