Emet Prize Laureates

Late Sh. Shifra

2010 Laureates of Emet Prize

In Category: Culture and Art
In Field: Translation: Literature, Poetry

Poetry and Literature

Late Sh. Shifra

Jury Statement

“The Emet Prize is awarded to poet and translator Sh. Shifra for her monumental private enterprise of promoting ancient culture through lyrical works, linking between the here and now of Israeli culture and the roots of the ancient Semitic space.”


The poet and translator Sh. Shifra (née Shiffman, and Shmuelevitz after her marriage) was born in Tel-Aviv to a Jerusalemite family of many generations.

She studied at the Talpiot High School, and in 1950 completed her studies at the Levinsky College. She later went on to study Kabbalah, Jewish philosophy and Hebrew literature at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She completed her B.A. in literature and education with distinction at the Tel-Aviv University. She converted her examinations into essays, and from one of them – about Nissim Aloni – her bookBetween Oven and Pool evolved. She later studied Sumerian and Akkadian at the Bar-Ilan University. She taught a course on Mesopotamian literature at the Tel-Aviv University ("Words of Magic and the Magic in Words"). She also lectured about the Ancient East at the Levinsky College.

Her first poems were published in literary supplements and various periodicals, and later compiled as books: Shir Isha ("A Woman's Song"), Shirei Midbar ("Desert Poems"), Isha SheMitamenet Belikhyot ("A Woman Who Practices How to Live") and Meshi Lakhashta Li ("Whispering Silk"). For 15 years she worked on the anthology Bayamim Ha-rekhokim ha-hem ("In Those Distant Days") which included epics, myths and song cycles, such as Tales of Gilgamesh, Enuma Elish, The Tammuz-Ashtar song cycle among others – all over 4,500 years old. The translation effort acknowledges the significance of this literature for the roots of the Jewish people, although it was done with almost no institutional support. The book has so far been printed in seven editions.

In her books and her lectures in academic institutions, museums and study and enrichment colleges she has made amends for the neglect of thousands of years of ancient Eastern culture, which preceded the history of the Jewish people. The second volume of Bayamim Ha-rekhokim ha-hem is about to be published, and will include all the pieces she translated since the publication of the first volume in 1996.

She has also adapted ancient myths for children and young readers, among them Alilot Gilgamesh ("Tales of Gilgamesh") and Alilot Anzu HaNesher Hagadol (Tales of Anzu the Great Eagle"). Her work won
her many prizes among them the Prime Minster's Prize (twice), the Acum Prize, the Leah Goldberg Award, the Tschernihovsky Prize, the Amichai Award, the Zeev Prize and the Andersen Award.