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Emma Lazarus: Beyond the Statue of Liberty

Hosted By: The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning

In this special session we will focus on one of the earliest and most high profile Jewish American writers, and how she became an indelible part of American history. Known most famously for having penned the iconic poem that was eventually emblazoned on the base of the Statue of Liberty, Emma Lazarus was not only a highly regarded poet of the 1800s, but a woman who defied her family’s assimilationist aspirations and became fiercely dedicated to the Jewish people. Born into an affluent and upwardly mobile Sephardic Jewish family, Lazarus, from her teenage years, embarked on a journey of Jewish learning and commitments. Eventually, she became a powerful Jewish voice, jeopardizing her reputation, status, and even her health when she chose to serve as a scribe of her people and a brave Jewish activist. At a time when the established, well-heeled Jewish community was reluctant to be too conspicuous or voluble, Emma Lazarus advocated for America’s recent Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and enlisted like-minded Jewish leaders to join in her activism. Join Jewish literature expert Dr. Shana Mauer for this masterful exploration of Lazarus’s life and work.

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