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How a Jewish Woman Clinched an Arab Literary Prize

By Gabrielle Birkner

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This story about a Jewish woman who, writing under a pen name, clinched an Arab literary prize, just came across JTA:

Tuvit Shlomi, 28, who works at the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel and attends an Orthodox synagogue in The Hague, won the prestigious El Hizjra Prize, a poetry award designed to promote the culture of Arab immigrants to Holland, particularly those from Morocco.

In a bid to ensure her work would be judged on the merits of its content rather than authorship, Shlomi submitted her poems using the pseudonym Wallada bint al-Mustaqfi, who was an 11th-century Andalusian poet and feminist.

As El Hizjra is not limited to entrants of Arab descent, Shlomi did not violate any contest rules. She also informed contest organizers of her identifiably Israeli name, even as she submitted her poetry to judges under the pen name.

According to her profile on a Jewish social networking Web site, Shlomi is a press officer for CIDI — a Dutch nongovernmental organization committed to “promoting the rights of Israel and the Jewish people.” She writes that she is active in Jewish communal organizations, such as Limmud, and that she is passionate about Israel, tradition, music and (not surprisingly) poetry.


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