The Shmooze

Rachel the Poetess To Appear on New Israeli Banknotes

By Nathan Jeffay

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Culture on your currency – the Bank of Israel has chosen poets over politicians.

Rachel the Poetess, or Rachel Bluwstein as she was born, was one of those tragic artists who didn’t receive nearly enough recognition in her lifetime. Well now, she has been given the ultimate mark of prestige: her image is to appear on new Israeli banknotes.

Russian-born Rachel, born in 1909, was a Zionist pioneer and prolific writer, but died from tuberculosis at age 40. She died alone, having needed to leave the kibbutz where she lived because her illness meant she could no longer endure the physical work. You can see a short biography here

The Bank of Israel said that she has been chosen to “help instill in the younger generation of Israelis an appreciation of their contribution to Israeli society and to the state.”

Three other poets were chosen for the same reason, Natan Alterman, Leah Goldberg, and Shaul Tchernichovsky.

The Bank of Israel’s decision represents a triumph for Likud lawmaker Benny Begin, who fought tooth and nail against a plan to portray his father, former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, on the bills. He objected because he regards his father’s image as private, not national, property.


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