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September 24, 1965 - Image 72

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1965-09-24

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Statue of Liberty, 80

Emma Lazarus, Freedom's Bard


(Copyright, 1965, JTA, Inc.)

ON THE 80th ANNIVERSARY of the arrival of the Statue of Liberty in New York's Harbor, on
the French warship Isere, the City of New York proclaimed the event as Bartholdi Day. It was in
honor of the statue's sculptor, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, who had gotten the idea for the historic monu-
ment from the French patriot, Edouard de Laboulaye, in 1865. The unveiling of the statue, after the
fruition of the idea given to Bartholdi, took place on Oct. 28, 1886.
The occasion recalls the history of the statue and the link with it of the great American poetess,
Emma Lazarus.
It is a time to recall the history of a friendship—America's with France.
Presented by the people of France as a gift to the people of America, in tribute to the high ideals
that animated the birth of the United States, the world-famous Statue of Liberty has become a permanent
symbol of these ideals.
Standing on Bedloe Island, at the entrance to New York harbor, this huge symbol of liberty has
become an inspiration to tens of millions who had fled to our shores from oppression and tyranny abroad.
For seven decades and for three generations the towering figure has been a beacon of hope and joy
to suffering multitudes for whom a new life began when they sailed past Miss Liberty with her forearm
outstretched in welcome.
SINCE THAT DAY 70 years ago—Oct. 28, 1886—when President Grover Cleveland formally
dedicated the Statue of Liberty, millions upon millions of people have gone to Bedloe Island to see it. These
myriads of visitors from every corner of the earth have marveled at the colossal creation of Frederic
Auguste Bartholdi. They have been thrilled as they climbed up into the head and squeezed themselves into
the crown. On the way down they doubtless paused to read the two tablets that tell of the group of
Frenchmen who conceived of the statute as France's gift to her sister republic upon the occasion of the
centenary of its independence, and of the voluntary contributions by thousands of Americans towards the
fund for building the giant pedestal.
NOT FAR from these, tablets is a third on which is inscribed a poem, "The New Colossus." The
author of this poem, which sings the praises of the Goddess of Liberty in language that has become
inerasable from the record of mankind's aspirations for freedom, was Emma Lazarus, one of the unforgotten
geniuses of American Jewry. She was one of the most brilliant writers of the nineteenth century. Her life
was tragically short, but her literary creations today are hailed among the most inspiring in American
Jewish history. Her career had in it the ennobling and humanitarian qualities symbolized by the Statue
of which she wrote with prophetic fervor.
Daughter of Moses and Esther Lazarus, Orthodox Jews of aristocratic Portuguese lineage, Emma
Lazarus was born in New York City, July 22, 1849. Raised in wealthy and sheltered surroundings, she
was educated by private tutors and spent her youth among the well-to-do.
SHE WROTE her first poem at the age of 14. When she was 17, she published a collection of her
own verses and some translations. These promising early efforts soon flowered into real genius. By the time
she was 21, the literary world began to take notice of Emma Lazarus, and her second volume of poems won
acclaim from Ralph Waldo Emerson and William Cullen Bryant.
Animated by a love of the classic poets and writers of France and Germany, the mythology of
the Greeks and the beauty of nature, Emma Lazarus' early works bore the stamp of these influences. Her
translations were devoted to the writings of Heinrich Heine and Victor Hugo, and her original pieces
reflected a genuine sense of beauty.
DESPITE THE APPROVAL her poems had won from the public and from men of letters, she
was yet to acquire her greatest spark of inspiration. She reached the peak of her greatness as the result
of the awakening within her of the Hebraic spirit. It had always been latent but was not brought to the
surface until she was shaken out of her reticence and literary naivete by the pogroms in Russia and
Romania from 1879 to 1882. The tragedy of these events stirred her so deeply that she turned her poetic
genius to the defense of her people.
With the zeal that takes possession of converts, Emma Lazarus abandoned the delicateness and the
purposelessness that had characterized her youthful writings, and she plunged into the formulation of a
solution to the Jewish problem. Fully a decade before Dr. Theodor Herzl convened the First World
Zionist Congress, her imagination was fired by the Palestine ideal, and she wrote a series of "Epistles
to the Hebrews" in which she outlined a plan for the repatriation of the Jews in their ancient homeland.
IN PROSE AND IN VERSE, she pleaded impassionately for justice to the Jews. The vigor of her
writing and the patent sincerity of her pleas gave notice that a giant advocate had arisen to defend
(Copyright, 1965, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Inc.)
the rights of the Jews. In poem after poem, she counseled a Zion rebuilt, depicted the tragedy of
a harassed Israel and created word pictures which, for prophetic and beautiful expression of the age-long
What is the derivation of the term Shofar?
cry of the Jews, have seldom been equaled. -
Actually; the derivation of the word itself is not too well estab-
It was inevitable that her new inspiration should have led her to the storehouse of her people's lished. There are some who relate the word to the Assyrian and
literary treasures. She made a study of the Hebrew language, and within seven months read the Hebrew Babylonian term "Shuparu" which means a "Horned Sheep." The
Bible in the original. From her pen came translations of some of the finest gems of medieval Hebrew Shofar being used in its current sense as the "Horn of the Sheep!'
poetry. At first she translated into English from German versions of Hebrew classics, but when she might easily come from such a derivation. The word Shofar also
acquired a knowledge of Hebrew she translated from the original works of Solomon Ibn Gabirol, Judah might be traced to a root signifying "decoration," or "beauty." Since
the horn of the sheep is an "ornament" of a kind, it might be very
Halevy, Moses Ben Ezra and other writers of the golden age in Jewish literature.
THE WRITING of "The New Colossus," which links Emma Lazarus' name for all time with the well called "Shofar" because it - "decorates" the animal and gives it
Statue of Liberty, was a direct outgrowth of her belated but passionate interest in the plight of her perhaps a certain type of beauty.
Why is the Shofar blown at two different parts of the services
people. Despite her delicate health, she spent many days visiting the haggard and ragged Jewish immi-
on Rosh Hashanah morning?
grants from Russia and Romania who crowded the immigration station on Ward Island in 1881 and 1882.
The sight of the refugees from pogroms had stimulated her fervor as much as had the news of the
It seems that the Shofar was originally blown at dawn in ordei
persecutions in Europe.
to comply with the principle that the "pious perform their religious
Those were the years when Americans were asked to contribute to the $300,000 fund to build the obligations as early as possible (Talmud Pesachim 4A). In the syna-
pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty was to stand. Money was slow in coming in. Many devices were gogue ritual the Shofar, therefore ; originally took place during the
utilized to obtain the needed funds. Public-spirited citizens held mass meetings and social-minded women early morning prayers of Shacharith. Certain events occurred either
in the Hadrianic persecutions of the second century, or the period
organized rummage sales and sold souvenirs.
CONSTANCE GARY HARRISON was one of this group of women. She was collecting poems, immediately following the death of Hadrian, which forced the Jews
drawings and stories for publication in a souvenir book to be sold for the benefit of the pedestal fund. to transfer the Shofar blowing to the late morning Musaf service. It
When she appealed to Emma Lazarus for a contribution in the book, the Jewish poetess at first declined. appears that the sounding of the Shofar in the early morning service
A modest person, she was not inclined to write for souvenir journals. But when Mrs. Harrison reminded or at dawn was mistaken by some to indicate that the people of Israel
Miss Lazarus "of the Goddess standing on her pedestal down yonder in the bay and holding out her torch were calling for a rise to arms against the Romans. They thus forbid
to those Russian refugees of yours whom you are so fond of visiting," she was galvanized into action. the Shofar from being used. By transferring the Shofar ritual to the
Miss Lazarus' contribution to the souvenir book was "The New Colossus," a poem of such tender beauty late morning Musaf service it seemed to have been evident that the
Shofar was being used only as part of the Synagogue service and
that it was inscribed on a tablet fastened to the inside of the Statue's base.
nothing else.
ENLMA LAZARUS' declaration of faith in the Great Lady of Liberty, who is perpetuating her
Once the situation was not dangerous anymore the Jews still
message of "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses . . . I lift my lamp beside the golden
door," continues to inspire America. Among the great symbols of the freedom advocated by the Goddess of retained two sets of Shofar rituals. The one in the Musaf service was
Liberty are the broken chains at her feet. There is a reminder of the great democratic American ideals in retained there, perhaps as a memorial of the persecution which forced
the tablet the Great Lady holds in her left hand, with the inscription JULY IV MDCCLXXVI—July 4, 1776. the Jews to place it there. The other was moved to a period between
the reading of the Torah and the Musaf service. Some claim that it
The poem by Emma Lazarus, coupled with this reminder of the Statue's guardianship over was instituted there so that on the one hand the latecomers who
American principles, at the Golden Gate of our land, jointly cement an imperishable ideal.
missed the Shacharith service would not •miss hearing the Shofar.
It is one of the ironies of fate that the life of the brilliant Jewess, of Emma Lazarus, Liberty's Bard,
Also that those who were unable to stay long enough to hear the
should have been cut short in its prime. She died Nov. 19, 1887, at the age of 39, a year after the Statue of entire Musaf service would be able to hear the Shofar at least after
Liberty was dedicated.
the reading of the Torah.

Rosh Hashanah Quiz

Torah Sessions Spread Learning Among Jewish Military


(Copyright, 1965, JTA, Inc.)

Christians have a long tradition
relating to special periods during
the year that are devoted to culti-
vation of the religious life — to
prayer, meditation, learning, and
discussion. Apart from the annual
Ten Days of Penitence, such peri-
ods of religious emphasis or spirit.
ual retreat were virtually un-
known among Jews in earlier gen-
erations. In our time, however,

many Jewish groups in America
have learned the real advantages
of assembling in relative seclusion
in order to concentrate on Jewish
communal and religious concerns.
Synagogues, for example, arrange
weekend retreats each year.
Jewish chaplains in the Armed
Forces have adopted the religious
emphasis periods and preaching
missions of their non-Jewish col-
leagues and have molded them ac-
cording to the emerging pattern of

the Jewish retreat. The result of
this merger is the Torah Convoca-

The military authorities pro-
mote and support such Torah
Convocations because they are
regarded as a positive factor in
building morale among Jewish,
members of the Armed Forces.
Thus, all Jewish chaplains in
Europe gather regularly for
study, and the military provides

transportation and a per diem fort is always made to emphasize
allowance for that purpose.
positive Jewish values.
The Air Force has made it a
The Department of the Army
matter of policy to have a Torah
Convocation annually at every do- has, on several occasions, gone to
mestic installation to which a Jew- considerable expense to sponsor a
ish chaplain is assigned on a full- series of week long conferences on
time basis. In addition to the chap- Judaism in an effort to reach every
lain, a visiting rabbi generally par- segment of the Jewish group at im-
ticipates in a number of sessions portant Army posts.
held on successive days. Each ses-
sion is devoted to a significant THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Jewish theme. Of course. the ef- 72 — Friday. SentAmhar_211 - 11_AS



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