The name of the certificate of membership in the Zionist Organization, given to every Jew who paid annual membership dues. The name comes from the unit of weight and currency used in the First Temple period. Purchasing the Zionist shekel expressed identification with Zionism and its goals. It was a prerequisite for voting for the Zionist Congress. Any Jew 18 years of age or over could buy a shekel, and from the age of 21 could be elected as a delegate to the Congress. The revenue from the sale of the shekalim was used for Zionist activities. The number of delegates that each country sent to the Congress was determined on the basis of the number of shekalim sold in that country.
After the establishment of the state, the sale of the shekel was discontinued, and elections to the Zionist Congress were conducted 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.
Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry