The shekel became the new currency of the State of Israel in 1980. The series of shekel banknotes, like the lira beforehand, were designed to commemorate both the founding fathers of Israel and the different gates of the Old City of Jerusalem. Those appearing on the first Israeli shekels since biblical times are shown below.
SIR MOSES MONTEFIORE 1784-1885
The one shekel note features Moses Montefiore in the foreground and Mishkenot Sha’ananim with the Montefiore Windmill in the background. On the reverse side is Jaffa Gate, the main entrance to the Old City, and David’s Citadel. Montefiore, statesman and philanthropist, was the first practical Zionist and builder of modern Jerusalem.
DR. CHAIM WEIZMANN 1874-1952
The five shekel note shows Chaim Weizmann, in front of the Wix Library at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot. On the back is the Damascus Gate, so called because it leads to Damascus.
Weizmann was the first President of Israel.
THEORDOR HERZL 1860-1904
The ten shekel note features Theordor Herzl and the background shows the entrance to Mount Herzl. On the reverse side is Zion Gate, the entrance to the Jewish Quarter. Herzl was the founder of Zionism and visionary of the re-born state.
DAVID BEN GURION 1886-1973
The fifty shekel note shows David Ben Gurion in front of the Ben Gurion Heritage Library in Sde Boker. On the reverse side is the Golden Gate, which faces the Mount of Olives. Ben Gurion was the first Prime Minister of Israel.
ZE’EV JABOTINSKY 1880-1940
The hundred shekel note shows Ze’ev Jabotinsky with Shuni House (Beit Shuni) in the background. On the back is Herod’s Gate. Jabotinsky established the Revisionist Zionist Group and the Betar Movement.
BARON EDMOND DE ROTHSCHILD 1848-1934
The five hundred shekel note features Edmond de Rothschild in the foreground with agricultural buildings and farmers in the background. On the reverse side is a bunch of grapes. All the farming villages he founded are written in small lettering. Rothschild was a philanthropist and ‘father of the yishuv’.
Montefiore encouraged a return to agriculture and the planting of vines.
Rehovot is where the Israel Wine Institute was formed.
Herzl visited Rishon Le Zion Cellars and was a shareholder of Carmel Wine Co.
Ben Gurion worked for Carmel Winery.
Shuni joins together the two winemaking towns of Zichron Ya’acov and Binyamina.
Rothschild founded the modern Israeli wine industry and built Israel’s two largest wineries.