Jewish Museum Uncovers World of Statue of Liberty Poet Emma Lazarus

An exhibit at a New York museum sheds new light on the life of Emma Lazarus, whose sonnet on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty transformed the monument into a symbol of hope for millions of immigrants.

“Emma Lazarus Poet of Exiles” at The Museum of Jewish Heritage, which runs through December, marks the 125th anniversary of the dedication of the statue.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free …” wrote Lazarus, whose passion had been stirred by the plight of Russian Jews fleeing pogroms in the 1880s, which inflamed anti-Semitism and xenophobia at home and abroad.

“Many people know Emma Lazarus for those lines, but we wanted visitors to understand all the influences that fed her thinking so that she could craft that message about exile, home and the promise of America as no one else could,” said Melissa Martens, curator and director of the exhibit.


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