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Abravanel, Don Isaac
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Lazarus, Emma
Lehman, Herbert H.
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Magnes, Judah L.
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Miller, Arthur
Myerson, Bess
Noah, Mordecai.
Ochs, Adolph
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Rosenthal, Robert
Ross, Barney

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Santangel, Luis de
Sarnoff, David
Schick, Bela
Seixas, Gershom M.
Singer, Isaac B.
Stern, Isaac
Straus, Isidor & Ida
Strauss, Levi
Streisand, Barbra
Szold, Henrietta
Torres, Luis de
Touro, Judah
Wacks, Mel

Wald, Lillian
Washington, George
Wiesel, Elie
Zacuto, Abraham

Medal by Gerta Ries Wiener (1983), Emma Lazarus, Statue of Liberty poet.

Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)

In 1883, a Pedestal Art Loan Exhibition was held to raise funds for the Statue of Liberty's pedestal. Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and others contributed original manuscripts, but the highest bid of $1,500 was received for a sonnet "The New Colossus" written just a few days earlier. The immortal words were penned by young Emma Lazarus, soon after her return from a European trip where she had seen the persecution of Jews and others first hand:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land,
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp! " Cries she,
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

It was not until 1888 that the Statue of Liberty assumed her majestic place in New York's harbor. Sadly, Emma Lazarus didn't witness this historical event since she died of cancer a year earlier, when she was only 38 years old.

Actually, Emma's poem might have been forgotten, but for the efforts of Georgiana Schuyler, who had the words inscribed on a tablet and affixed inside the Statue of Liberty in 1903. In 1945, the tablet was moved from the second story landing to the Statue's entrance, where it can be seen today.

In addition to her own writings, Lazarus - who hadn't studied Hebrew until her 34th year - made scholarly translations of Ben Ezra, Gabirol and Halevi. She even found time to help establish the Hebrew Technical Institute of New York.


Click Here to Take Emma Lazarus Quiz

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