The first numismatic project embarked upon by Mel Wacks, as numismatic consultant to the Magnes Museum of Berkeley, Calif., was the issuance of wooden shekels in 1968.
The success of this issue helped to raise funds that allowed for the launching of The Jewish-American Hall of Fame series of medals the following year. Today, this is the longest continuing series of art medals in the United States.
A limited edition of 500 wooden shekels celebrates the 40th anniversary of The Jewish-American Hall of Fame.
The obverse is identical to the 1968 issue except for the date. It features a chalice, as it appeared on silver shekels issued during the First Revolt of Judaea against the Romans from 66-70 C.E.
Above the beaded rim of the chalice is the date “2009” and below are the initials “MW” of designer Wacks. Around the circumference is the inscription “Wooden Shekel” in English and ancient Hebrew.
The reverse design features the back of the first Jewish-American Hall of Fame medal – a quote by Rabbi Judah L. Magnes made to the students of Hebrew University: “Seek Truth Without Fear.” The monogram “VR” of the medalist Victor Ries, who celebrated his 101st birthday last year, is below.
The surrounding inscriptions read “Jewish-American Hall of Fame” and the award-winning web site “,” that welcomes more than a million visitors a year.
The new wooden shekel is available for a contribution of $2 each to the Jewish-American Hall of Fame.
Send orders and payment c/o Mel Wacks, 5189 Jeffdale Ave., Woodland Hills, CA 91364.
For more information on the Jewish-American Hall of Fame, visit the Web site mentioned above or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.