Shas bill: Add ‘In God we trust’ to banknotes as ‘talisman for economic success’

Haredi MKs point to use of phrase on US dollar bills, say addition will be good luck charm for national finances; Liberman: ‘Interesting way to battle the cost of living’

Illustrative: 100 shekel banknotes, seen December 31, 2017. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative: 100 shekel banknotes, seen December 31, 2017. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Several Shas party MKs submitted a bill on Tuesday proposing that all banknotes issued by the Bank of Israel include the Hebrew phrase for “In God we trust.”

The proposal uses the word “Hashem” as a substitute to avoid the Jewish taboo of deleting an actual name for God when written down.

The ultra-Orthodox party claimed the addition of the phrase should not be a problem to include on the banknotes and would not harm anyone if it were added.

It was the latest in a series of bills by Haredi parties that are increasing religious overtones to public life. Critics say the moves are changing the balance between religion and state.

A preamble to the bill explained that the Jewish people have a “clear and simple belief that everything is blessed by God, including economic abundance.” It quoted a phrase from Psalms that implores God to “Open your hands and satisfy the desire of every living being.”

“Therefore, it is important to be grateful to God and to express that faith on the banknotes of the State of Israel,” the bill stated.

The authors of the legislation highlighted the fact that United States dollars have the phrase “In God we trust” printed on them — adding the suggested Hebrew phrase would be “a talisman for the economic success of Israel,” they said.

The phrase is in fact the official motto of the United States.

‘In God We Trust’ is engraved in stone above a US flag in the House of Representatives chamber at the Capitol in Washington on March 1, 2022 (Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

It is not clear if the coalition will back the bill, the Ynet news site reported.

The government’s position on the matter will be decided if the bill reaches the ministerial committee for legislation, the report said.

Leader of the staunchly secular opposition Yisrael Beytenu party MK Avigdor Liberman, a former finance minister, mocked the proposal as “an interesting way to battle the cost of living.”

“What next? Will they ask to put a picture of Deri on each banknote?” he tweeted referring to Shas leader Aryeh Deri, dismissed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week after the High Court of Justice barred his return to ministerial office in light of his past financial crimes and apparently broken pledge to leave political life.

Yisrael Beytenu party chairman Avigdor Liberman speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on January 16, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Before entering office, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich suggested that the laws of the Torah would dictate his economic approach.

“If we follow the Torah,” Smotrich said, “we’ll be rewarded with financial abundance and a great blessing. That will be my economic approach.”

On Tuesday, lawmakers from United Torah Judaism, another ultra-Orthodox party in the government, submitted a bill to provide gender-segregated bathing hours at natural springs in the country’s national parks.

That bill followed one a day earlier that would make it prohibited to bring leavened goods, or hametz, into hospitals during the Passover holiday.

Netanyahu leads a right-wing, religious coalition with parties that made far-reaching demands during negotiations to join the government. Critics say Netanyahu compromised on many issues that will upset the status quo between religion and state.

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