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Knesset Approves Measure to Change Name of Currency from Pound to Shekel

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Legislation to change the name of Israel’s basic unit of currency from pound to shekel has been approved by the Knesset. But the new name will not become official for several years, until the present stock of currency is exhausted and new bills are printed, the Bank of Israel said. The Israel pound, also known locally as lira, is worth about 35 cents at current rates of exchange.

The shekel was originally a weight and later a coin used in ancient Israel. It was said to have been based on a coin minted in Babylon, the center of commerce in the region. In 1897 the shekel was adopted by the first World Zionist Congress in Basle as the unit of contribution to the Zionist movement. The word shekel has also crept into the English language as slang for money.

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