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a prominent part of religious services in Biblical times and was
used as a coin theme by Bar Kochba during the Second Revolt (132
- 135 C.E.), when a lyre was featured on bronze and silver coins.
A similar harp has appeared on Israel's trade coins, and music has
become one of the country's most popular medallic topics. Some of
the most important medals issued include the "Arthur Rubinstein
International Piano Master Competition" (1974, 1977, 1980), the
"International Harp Competition" (1959, 1962, 1965, 1970, etc.),
the "Music and Drama Festival" issued annually since 1962, the "Zimriya
Choirs" (1973, 1975, 1977), the "Pablo Casals International Violoncello
Competition" (1961) and the "Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Jubilee"
Ships are another
ancient theme that appeared on Judeans coins more than 2,000 years
ago and are a prolific subject on modem Israel's coinage and medals.
The 1963 "Seafaring" coin is Israel's most valuable silver coin;
it features an ancient galley on one side and the smokestack of
a modern Steamship on the other. A lighthouse guarding the port
of Eilat appears on a 1967 coin, and a coin issued in 198S depicts
a sailing vessel from the time of King Solomon. The 1981 state medal
features the Sea of Galilee, while that issued in 1963 marked the
"Terra Sancta-Christian Pilgrimage." The 1965 state medal depicted
The port of
Eilat, one of many issues celebrating nautical themes, is featured
on this 1967 Independence Anniversary commemorative silver coin.
modem theme is represented on this silver medal, "Shavit," issued
in 1962 to celebrate an Israeli rocket launched for meteorological
Sports commemoratives would seem to be a contemporary topic, but actually
such pieces were issued even before there was a modern State of Israel!
Judaic Tokens and Medals, by Sylvia Haffner and edited and annotated
by Nathan Sobel, lists dozens of issues produced for sporting events,
beginning with an undated "Affula Horse Race" and including the 1933
"Prague Maccabiah Games." Official Israel Government state medals
have honored "Invalid Olympics" (1968), the "22nd International Chess
Olympiad" hosted by the city of Haifa (1976), "11th Hapoel Games"
(1979), "11th Maccabiah" (1981), the "Los Angeles Olympics" (1984)
and the "Olympics in Seoul" (1987).
A very up-to-date
theme, however, is space. The 1962 "Shavit" silver issue commemorates
an Israeli rocket launched for meteorological exploration, and bears
the Biblical prophecy "There shall come a star out of Jacob" (Numbers
24:17). The 1989 platinum piece "Offeq," issued in 1989 to honor
Israel's first satellite, displays the same prophetic quote.
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