Dec 21, 2009

Golda Meir and Naomi Shemer peering out of your wallet

There is a debate going on right now about changing the look of the currency in Israel. The committee wants to changes the faces that appear on the bills and use the faces of the heroes of the State. People like Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin, and others (though Begin's family said they do not want his face to appear on a bill).

The discussion has raised a bit of a ruckus, as not a single woman's name was considered to be used for the face on a bill.

I have read four articles on the debate and I have noticed an interesting thing. not a single article said that the reason for not including women was because the haredi parties protested having the face of a woman on the bills. No actual reason was given, but when I read the first article I was sure it was going to say that the reason was because the haredim insisted on it. And that reason was not given. Not in that paper, not in the next, the next or the last one I read.

Yet the general Israeli public, the leaders of the public, neglected, and have so far refused to recant that position, to include the face of a woman. (another statistic thrown out in the debate is that 93% of streets in Israel named after people are named for men, and only 7% of such streets are named for women).

Had it mentioned that, you can be sure of the public outcry about the backward haredim and their religious coercion. I am sure I would have written something about it as well, as would many others. Yet here we see that general Israeli society is just as backwards, and biased against women.

Let's hear the outcry. Let's see if anyone cares enough to support the group promoting to get a woman's face on one of the soon-to-be minted bills.


  1. I would be in favour of placing Golda Meir on a bill of currency since she wasn't that attractive anyway.

    Neither was Naomi Shemer, but I would object to her because we only have 4 bills. Those 4 faces must be of those whose contributions to Israel were of the highest order, only a prime minister could claim. I'm sure there'd be a debate as to which 4 prime ministers at that. (Just for the record, I'd vote against Rabin.)

    But certainly not a songwriter. You wouldn't consider putting Frncis Scott Key or Katharine Lee Bates on a US bill would you?

    Wait. I'll qualify my comment that only a PM can claim that level of service to Israel. I'd also be in favour of faces such as Dovid or Shlomo HaMelech, Yehoshua, etc. But we don't have photographs of them.

  2. those supporting women on bills were also talking about using faces of artists and other women that were extremely influential in the creation of the State. A whole bunch of names were listed as suggestions. The only one I remembered was Naomi Shemer. There were others mentioned though. I remember now another was Hanna Senesh.

  3. I stand by my main point. Naomi Shemer, Chana Senesh, Henrietta Szold, other artists, songwriters, military heroes and heroines, are all worthy of honour, but not by their face on the country's money. Bills are for PM's.

  4. Huh? S.Y Agnon has been on the 50 shekel bill nearly forever. Wanna Saab, you're bringing in minhagim from the old country. Israel already has a longstanding tradition of including artists and other influential pple on its currency.

  5. Rav Kook was just as important to the creation of the state as S.Y. Agnon, if not more.

    And I'm sure that in 50 years (if not already), more people read his writings than Agnon's.

  6. Abbi, point noted. Truth is, I never paid attention to who we have on our bills now. Maybe they feel Shai Agnon contributed even more than some PMs! Yoni, I'd agree with your point about Rav Kook contributing more than Shai Agnon.


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