New 50 shekel note
New 50 shekel noteCourtesy of the Bank of Israel

The Bank of Israel on Wednesday released the first samples to the Israeli market of its new 50 shekel (just under $15) banknote that is posed to enter circulation.

Training was held in Jerusalem to prepare businesses to recognize and accept the bill and to reduce confusion as the bill enters common usage. Specifications were provided so that vending machines and other devices will be calibrated in advance to accept the note.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met Bank of Israel Governor Dr. Karnit Flug on Wednesday ahead of the launch of the new banknote, saying "in order for this note to retain its value, we must guard both security and the economy."

"We must increase the security budget due to Operation Protective Edge and guard the economy, and these items meet in the deficit which we can control and which will not topple us," added Netanyahu. 

The new note will feature the likeness of Shaul Tchernichovsky (1875-1943), a Russian-born Hebrew poet.

Microtext on the front of the note features a line from Tchernichovsky's poem "Oh, My Land, My Homeland," including the words "the bouquet of spring orchards" that inspired the design of a citrus tree and fruits on the front of the bill.

On the back, microtext from his poem "I Believe" is printed reading "For I will continue to believe in man, in his spirit, a spirit of strength."

"The back of the banknote portrays a Corinthian column in reference to parts of Tchernichovsky’s compositions and his wonderful translations of ancient Greek literature," said the Bank of Israel in a statement.

Not everyone has been pleased with the selection of Tchernichovsky.

Dr. Hagai Ben-Artzi, a Bar Ilan University lecturer and brother in-law of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, slammed the choice last May, noting that the poet was married to a non-Jew, giving a negative message of assimilation.

“We cannot turn him into a national symbol, since he disdained such an important component of Jewish identity and intermarried, increasing assimilation,” Ben-Artzi told Arutz Sheva.

Back of the 50 shekel note
Back of the 50 shekel noteCourtesy of the Bank of Israel