Emma Lazarus

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
— Emma Lazarus

Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) was an American poet. One of the first successful Jewish American authors, Lazarus was part of the late nineteenth century New York literary elite, but also became a passionate advocate for Jewish immigrants and refugees. Among other things, she helped establish the Hebrew Technical Institute in New York, which provided vocational training so that the destitute could learn to support themselves. She is most remembered for her poem “The New Colossus,” which is inscribed on the pedestal of the statue of liberty, welcoming incoming immigrants as they arrived in New York Harbor with these powerful words, which have become a lasting, iconic part of the American fabric: “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-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”