Everyone knows her words:


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.


But if you are like me, you probably don't know much about the woman who wrote these lines in 1883.  A new exhibit at the New York Museum of Jewish Heritage explores the life and times of Emma Lazarus. 


 



 


The words of Emma Lazarus continue to inspire.



The exhibit, Emma Lazarus: Poet of Exiles, marks the 125th anniversary of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty, and is the first major museum exhibition about Ms. Lazarus.  The exhibit includes rare artifacts that explore her unique story and message.  Emma Lazarus was a poet, playwrite, and novelist.  She also translated many works from Jewish poets into English.  She was a decendant of Portugese Sephardic Jews, who settled in the U.S. prior to the Revolutionary War.  Her family includes several prominent Americans, including Benjamin Cardozo, an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. 


Ms. Lazarus was also an activist.  She taught Russian Jewish immigrants in New York and helped them become self supporting.  She also traveled twice to Europe.  When she returned from her second trip, she was very ill (probably with cancer), and she died two months later, in November 1887.  She was 38 years old.


The exhibit opened last month and runs until the summer of 2012.  To learn more, check out the museum's website, here.  Also, if you would like to read more about Emma Lazarus, check this post in the Jewish Women's Archive.


Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.