Zionist Shekel- The certificate of membership received after paying dues or "tax"
members of the Zionist movement
in former times. The "Shekel" took its name from the ancient coins of Israel (see
Shekel) . A "Shekel" (actually a half-Shekel
coin it seems) was also paid to the temple as
a tax and a means of taxation.
The Zionist Shekel was first instituted by
Herzl, Theodor at the first Zionist congress.
Any Jew of at least 18 years of age could buy a Shekel, and any member aged 24 years or older could be elected as
a delegate to the Congress. The revenue from the sale of the Shkalim was used for Zionist activities. The number of
delegates that each country was allowed to send to the Congress was based on the number of Shkalim sold in that
country. After the establishment of the state of Israel, the shekel was discontinued. Elections to the Zionist Congress
were carried out on the basis of a census of members of Zionist federations. The decision to abolish the shekel was made
official only at the 27th Congress in 1968.
Following is excerpted from a publication of the Zionist movement in 1945:
... Dr. Herzl, the Founder of political Zionism and herald of the Jewish revival, proclaimed the re-introduction of the
Shekel at the First Zionist Congress. By doing so he associated the new Eretz Israel with a lofty tradition which had
been in existence not merely during the most glorious periods of Jewish independence, but also during the cruel and
numerous wanderings in the course of two thousand years.
The Shekel Nowadays
When the First Zionist Congress was convened in 1897 by Dr. Herzl, the foundation was laid for the establishment of
the World Zionist Organisation, which has brought about the great wonder of the Jewish national revival after two
thousand years in exile. Jews in all parts of the world heard the clarion call of Herzl, responded to it and for the
first time in Jewish history gathered together in order to think unitedly of the tragic fate that has befallen all
Israel, to take counsel together and to seek ways and means of rescuing the people from extermination. Herzl and his
collaborators felt in their hearts that the Jewish Nation was standing on the verge of the abyss, and that there was no
place for the complacency prevalent in extensive Jewish circles, who had lulled themselves into the illusion that
emancipation would offer the Jews all that they required.
The call issued from the forum of the First Zionist Congress not only made an idelible impression on the Jews
throughout the world, but also moved the conscience of the best of the non-Jews. From that time the idea of the Zionist
solution to the Jewish question began to engage many statesmen, and the Jewish question began to receive international
consideration. One important stage in its development closed when the League of Nations entrusted to Great Britain the
Mandate for Palestine,which includes the Balfour Declaration whereby Great Britain undertook to help the Jews in
establishing the Jewish National Home in Palestine.
As an outcome of the deliberation at the First Zionist Congress the World Zionist Organisation was established and
undertook the difficult task of preparing the Jewish people for redemption from the servitude of Exile, and the return
of independent life to the Jewish People in their Homeland. The Zionist Organisation pulled down barriers of space and
environment and united the entire nation in a common purpose.
A Badge of Citizenship
When the First Zionist Congress proclaimed the existence of the Jewish People as a national entity and its desire to
be redeemed, together with its own plan for liberation, it likewise proclaimed the right of every member of the Jewish
people who so wishes to participate in those liberation activities and to influence their character and progress. The
Establishment of the Zionist Organisation restored Jewish Citizenship, and the Jewish citizen became the Guardian of his
own destiny. He elected the leaders of the Zionist Organisation, which was the Jewish State in the making, as Herzl
called it. The members of the Zionist Organisation were the Citizens of that State, possessing the rights and duties
responsible for it.
Zionism aspires to find a solution to the Jewish question on an international basis according to international law;
which means that the nations of the world should recognise the justice of our aspirations and our right to national
freedom. The Nations of the world are likely to, and indeed would, give consideration to the expressed will of the
Jewish masses. We must therefore prove that the masses of the people are with us; that Zionism is not the dream and
vision of a scant handful, but expresses the firm resolve of the Jewish masses. The first proof of this aspiration of
the Jewish masses and of their unflinching resolve for a Zionist solution to the Jewish problems is the Shekel, the
symbol of Zionist citizenship.
The Shekel, established at the First Zionist Congress at Basle in 1897, serves as an annual tax to the World Zionist
Organisation for every Jew who recognises the Basle programme, which aims "to erect for the Jewish people a home in
Palestine secured by public law."
The Shekel is the symbol of membership of the World Zionist Organisation, which has restored to the Jewish people its
honour and its place in the family of nations.
The Shekel serves as the instrument of a Zionist census. Every Jew who acquires the Shekel demonstrates that he
shares in Zionist aspirations and in the redemptive activites of the Movement. At the same time he strengthens the
Zionist Movement for its hard fight ahead.
The Shekel provides the right of participation in the elections to the Zionist Congress. Every Shekel-Payer of either
sex, aged 18 and over, is entitled to a vote in the election of delegates, while those aged 24 or over may also be
elected to the Zionist Congress, the supreme legislative institution of the World Zionist Organisation. The final
decision in respect of all the activities of the Zionist Organisation is in the hands of the delegate to the Zionist
Congress. Thus the Shekel-payers directly influence the development of the Zionist Movement and are responsible for the
conduct of the affairs of the Zionist Organisation like the sovereign peoples of the democratic countries.
Here are some Zionist Shekel certificates in a variety of languages - English, Hebrew and
Yiddish. The one at lower left is a "Jubilee" Shekel from 1948. It states, "The aim of the Zionist Movement is to create
for the Jewish people a home in Palestine secured in public law" - a poor translation of the major resolution of the
first Zionist congress in 1897." The German original referred to Volkerrechtig - apparently meaning "secured in
international law." Literally, the Hebrew says , "The Zionist movement aspires to purchase a shelter secure by open law
for the Jewish people in the land of Israel.
Synonyms and alternate spellings:
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
'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
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