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 Shekel (Sheqel) Definition

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Shekel ( Hebrew - More proper transliteration "Sheqel" - literally - weight) has these meanings:

1- The modern Israeli currency, New Israeli Shekel (NIS) currently one of the strongest currencies in world, the New Israeli Shekel is now traded on the international currency market and is freely interchangeable. The New Israeli Shekel was introduced at the end of 1985 to replace the Shekel, which had been substantially eroded by inflation. The Sheqel had replaced the Israeli Lira (IL) in 1980. Ten lira = one Sheqel. 1000 Sheqel = 1 New Sheqel. 100 Agorot= One Sheqel or Shekel. he value of the New Israeli Sheqel has fluctuated from about 1.5 Sheqel to the dollar to 4.8 Sheqel to the dollar, and is currently (2008) approximately 3.4 Sheqel to the dollar. 

2- A standard weight used in the ancient Middle East, apparently originally Akkadian and referring to a bushel of wheat.

3- A weight of silver or gold that was used in commerce prior to the invention of coinage. Later these were made into standard bars and marked with a seal to indicate purity. The weight of the Shekel is various given as several hundred grams, 11 grams, 14 grams etc.

4- Any of several coins of ancient Israel, including coins of the Maccabean (Hasmonide) kings, coins of the revolt of 66 AD and the Bar Kokhba revolt. The right to coin money was granted to the Maccabeans as an acknowledgement of sovereignty, and the coinage of money by the rebels was an assertion of sovereignty.

Silver Shekel issued by the rebels in 68 AD. Obverse: "Shekel Israel. Year 3"; Reverse: "Jerusalem the Holy" Shekel of the  Bar Kokhba revolt: Obverse: the Temple facade with rising star ( a reference to Bar Kochba, which means "son of a star"). Reverse: A lulav (palm frond used in Jewish observance of the feast of Tabernacles). The text: "Year one of the liberty of Israel"

5- A tax of one-half Shekel paid to the temple, that also served as a means of performing the census.

6 - The Zionist Shekel - a certificate that a member of the Zionist organization had paid their dues.

Synonyms and alternate spellings: Shekel

Further Information: Zionist Shekel

Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:

'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.

ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."

u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.

a- sounded like a in arm

ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.

'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.

o - close to the French o as in homme.

th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.

q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.

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This work and individual entries are copyright 2005 by Ami Isseroff and Zionism and Israel Information Center and may not reproduced in any form without permission unless explicitly noted otherwise. Individual entries may be cited with credit to The Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Zionism and Israel


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