The Half Shekel
In the center of the obverse of the Jubilee Year Issue is a raised Lyre, the Prophetic "Assur" (Ten stringed lyre of the Third Temple Era) based on the restoration work of the House of Harrari, Biblical Harp makers in Jerusalem.
Above the lyre appears the date, in ancient Hebrew letters taken from the coinage of the First Rebellion (65-70 CE); "Shin Noon" standing for "Shanah 'Noon'" (50th Year). As we have no custom of dating our coinage by foreign calenders, nor even from Creation, we took the example of our predesessors and dated our ceremonial coin from the Liberation of the Land of Israel. This year's coin, minted to be given on Purim of 1998, will open the 50th Year celebrations of the State of Israel.
Below the lyre appear the words "Lo Heilech Chuki" (Not Legal Tender), to satisfy the needs of the Bank of Israel Law that we are not producing a currency substitute.
The legend along the right side of the coin reads "V'Natnu Ish Kofer Nafsho L'Hashem" ("And every person shall give an atonement for their soul to G-d") [Exodus 30:12], and continues with "Machatzit Hashekel B'Shekel Hakodesh" ("Half a Shekel of the Holy Shekel") [Exodus 30:13]
The same wording appears in the ancient Hebrew script as the legend along the left side of the coin. We did this as a continuation of our ancestor's custom of retaining the ancient script on our independent coinage, even after that script has been superceded by another version, as was the case with the First and Second Rebellion coins.
The reverse of the Jubilee Year issue is composed of a concave center depicting a pair of hands joining together in the manner of the Priestly Blessing, offering a Half-Shekel towards Heaven. The Half-Shekel ascends as a "Coin of Fire" skyward.
To the right appear the words "Kazeh Yitnu" ("This shall you give.") [Exodus 30:13]
To the left appear the words "Matbeah Shel Aish" ("A Coin of Fire") [Rashi]
In the foreground are the Walls of Jerusalem, built from the funds of the Holy Half-Shekel.
The legend across the top reads "Heasher Lo Yarbeh, V'Hadal Lo Yamit" ("The rich shall not give more, nor the poor less".) [Exodus 30:15]
The legend across the bottom reads "L'Shem Ichud Klal Yisrael" ("For the sake of the unity of the whole House of Israel") [Beged Ivri]
The hands symbolize the coming together of opposites; the left and right, the religious and secular, the fundamentalists and the modernizers, each but a half, needing the "other" to complete themselves.
The hands are held in the manner of the Priestly Blessings to symbolize the Temple Service, which is budgeted from the Trumath Halishkah (Appropriations), from the Half-Shekels donated each year.
A river flows forth from Jerusalem, through its gate. This symbolizes the Redemption. What an awesome thing it is to write these words. Mamash unbelievable!