The Bank of Israel on Tuesday rolled out its new designs for the 20 and 100 shekel bills, both of which feature portraits of acclaimed Hebrew poetesses.
None of the new Israeli shekel banknotes currently in circulation — which come in denominations of NIS 20, 50, 100 and 200 — feature women. The NIS 10 bill issued in 1985 featured a portrait of former prime minister Golda Meir, until it was removed from circulation in the 1990s.
Meir was also featured on the 10,000 shekel bill prior to the replacement of the shekel with the new Israeli shekel in 1985. Numerous women were featured on the Israeli pound before it was supplanted by the shekel in 1980.
The new NIS 20 note’s design is red and will have an image of Rachel Bluwstein — known in Hebrew as Rachel the poetess — and the back of the bill will contain words from her poem “Kinneret,” known in English as the Sea of Galilee, alongside a picture of the shore of the same lake.
The new NIS 100 is orange and bears the portrait of Leah Goldberg, one of Israel’s most acclaimed poets and writers, and the back of the bill will have an image of deer with an excerpt from her poem “White Days.”
The new NIS 20 and NIS 100 banknotes will join the NIS 50 and NIS 200 bills, which were released in 2014 and 2015, respectively, to complete the release of the third series of notes of the new Israeli shekel.
The NIS 50 note has an image of Shaul Tchernihovsky, a Russian-born Hebrew poet, while the NIS 200 bill has a portrait of Natan Alterman, a Polish-born playwright, poet and journalist who wrote in Hebrew.
Although the Bank of Israel did not provide a date for the release of the new banknotes, it said that both bills will enter circulation by the end of 2017.
When the design of the third series of banknotes was announced in 2013, numerous Israeli lawmakers criticized the planned bills for omitting any Hebrew-language poets of Sephardi descent, as they only have images of poets of Ashkenazi heritage.