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March 10: Poets on Israel’s Currency

March 10, 2016

New50NISfaceThe Bank of Israel announced on this date in 2011 that four poets would be featured on the country’s new currency, replacing political figures: Rachel Sela (Rachel the Poetess) on the 20-shekel note; Shaul Tchernichovsky on the 50-shekel note, Leah Goldberg on the 100-shekel note; Natan Alterman on the 200-shekel note. The bills were released between 2013 and 2014 — to howls of protest from Orthodox leaders of anti-assimilationist groups because Tchernichovsky was married to a non-Jew, and from Sephardic representatives because all of the honored poets were Ashkenazim. Rachel the Poetess, who died in 1931, wrote many pieces that have been made into songs. Tchernichovsky, who died in 1943, twice won the Bialik Prize for Literature. Goldberg, who died in 1970, was an overall woman of letters who translated War and Peace into Hebrew. Alterman, who died in 1970, won the 1968 Israel Prize for Literature.

“In order to maintain the public’s trust in the State’s currency, the governor decided to replace the currency series with a new series which will include some of the world’s most advanced security and identification markings in a bid to make counterfeiting more difficult.” —Bank of Israel