Q&A: Why is Israeli currency called New Israeli Shekel? Why not just call it shekel?


The bigger question is why is it called a shekel at all?

Only someone supremely tone deaf to the negative associations attached to the word shekel for any Christian—since the New Testament story (Matthew 26:15) that Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for ‘thirty shekels of silver’—would even consider naming the currency of the modern-day Jewish state by that name.

Unfortunately, since Jewish Israelis are not taught anything about Christianity or the New Testament, the powers that be in Israel are probably still utterly unaware of this.

For a country that is always keen on portraying itself as a Western country (and even part of Europe), this ignorance is particularly striking, and it would make an interesting academic study to examine how much damage it inflicts upon Israel’s image abroad, at a subconscious level.

There were so many alternative names that could have been used—such as ketter (crown), kikar (talent), géra, agorah—or my favourite, culpa (if only for the opportunity to say, when asked how much something costs, ‘Mea culpa’ = ‘a hundred culpa’).


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