National poets to appear on new series of banknotes

Bank of Israel announces new list, including Alterman, Tchernichovsky and Rachel, more than a year after shelving original suggestions.

Money Shekels bills 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Money Shekels bills 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The faces of four of Israel’s most celebrated poets and playwrights have been selected to appear on a new series of banknotes slated for release in the next three years, Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer announced on Thursday.
Natan Alterman, Leah Goldberg, Shaul Tchernichovsky and Rachel Sela – better known as Rachel the Poetess – were selected for the list, which was finalized following more than a year of heated debate and which will now be submitted to the government for approval. The faces will appear on new NIS 20, 50, 100 and 200 banknotes.
The Bank of Israel said in a press release that the poets were chosen in the hope that “featuring these personalities on the banknotes will help to instill in the younger generation of Israelis an appreciation of their contribution to Israeli society and to the state.”
Fischer made the announcement a day after meeting with the Committee for the Planning of Banknotes, Coins and Commemorative Coins, chaired by retired Judge Yaacov Turkel, to confirm the four selections.
The committee was tasked in December 2009 with finding a new set of personalities for the banknotes after the central bank shelved its original list – which included Rachel the Poetess, writer Shai Agnon and former prime ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin - following strong opposition from, among others, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and MK Benny Begin, son of Menachem.
The New Israeli Shekel was introduced in place of the old shekel in 1985, with banknotes featuring the same personalities that can still be found today: former prime minister Moshe Sharett on the NIS 20 note, Shay Agnon on the NIS 50 note, and former presidents Yitzhak Ben- Zvi and Zalman Shazar on the NIS 100 and 200 notes.
According to the Bank of Israel, the new series will incorporate state-of the-art security and identification features to aid anti-counterfeiting measures.