You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share

Emma Lazarus's Audacity of Hope

While many Americans are still relishing in a renewed surge of hope (myself among them), I thought I'd give a shout-out to Emma Lazarus. Her memory became forever associated with her powerful vision of America as a symbol of hope and possibility for the down-trodden. Today marks the 121st anniversary of Emma's untimely death, at the age of 38.

It wasn't until several years after I first visited the Statue of Liberty that I learned the words: "Give me your tired, your poor! Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," (etched into a plaque at the Statue's base) were penned by a Jewish woman named Emma. One of the first successful American Jewish authors, Lazarus was part of the late-19th-century New York literary elite, and was celebrated in her day as an important American poet. In her later years, she wrote bold, powerful poetry and essays protesting the rise of anti-Semitism and arguing for Russian immigrants' rights.

In 2008, it's refreshing to once again see a glimmer of hope re-emerging in a time of jadedness, war, and environmental destruction. We just elected our nation's first black president ... and, for many of us, this is a sign that anything really is possible. It's comforting to believe that there may come a time when we actually will "breathe free." It's equally comforting to realize that two centuries ago, a Jewish woman helped mark this country as a place where freedom really did become a reality. Thank you, Emma L.

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share
More on: Poetry,
1 Comment

It is not often that you come across someone who is truly inspirational. The important thing is to keep the legacy alive

Subscribe to Jewish Women, Amplified and get notifications sent to your email.

How to cite this page

Namerow, Jordan. "Emma Lazarus's Audacity of Hope." 19 November 2008. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 23, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/emmas-audacity-of-hope>.

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

The JWA Podcast

listen now

Poll

What Does America Need Right Now?

Sign Up for JWA eNews

 

Twitter

1 day
"Mixed-Up Files" gets even more love! Don't miss our podcast ep abt the tour in this article https://t.co/rmyT7utlMg https://t.co/iRfIYgruWc
1 day
Love this article about reclaiming Jewish folklore for feminist purposes. https://t.co/k4Hylfv4cD
1 day
1. Yay for a biopic of the ! 2. Boo for Natalie Portman leaving the project. https://t.co/RWRRvI2CzB