Emma Lazarus Project

The Emma Lazarus Project explores the story of Emma Lazarus, a fifth-generation American Jew caught in an important turning point in American and Jewish History. The initiative—including an exhibit, curriculum and poetry contest—uses primary sources straight from the archive to encourage students to piece together Emma’s fascinating story, and to join the ongoing conversation about American identity.

New Colossus Translated

Learn more about this project in essays written by Alicia Ostriker and Mihaela Moscaliuc.

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The New Colossus

By: Emma Lazarus

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!”

דער נייער קאלאסוס

Translated into Yiddish
by Rose Waldman

נישט ווי דער שטאלצער גריכישער ריז מיט

אייננעמנדיגע פיס פון לאנד צו לאנד

דא ביי אונזער ים’יג טויער זאל שטיין

א מעכטיגע פרוי מיט א לאמפ, איר פלאם

איז א געפאנגענע בליץ, איר נאמען

“מאמע פון פליטים”. פון איר ליכטיג האנט

שיינט א וועלט’ס ברוך הבא, איר מילדע

 אויגן איבער די בריק פון צווילינג שטעט.

“האלט אייך, אלטע לענדער, אייער פאמפע!”

שרייט זי, שטים. “גיב מיר אייער מידע, די

 ארעמע, וואס לעכצן צו אטעם’ן פריי

די מיסט פון אייער רוישענדיגע ברעג.

שיקט זיי, די איינזאם היימלאזע, צו מיר

איך הייב מיין לאמפ ביי די גאלדענע טיר!” 


Rose Waldman holds an MFA in fiction and literary translation from Columbia University. Her translation of S. An-sky’s Yiddish novel, Pioneers: The First Breach, was published by Syracuse University Press, and Sons and Daughters by Chaim Grade is forthcoming from Knopf. An NEA grant recipient, she has written for various anthologies and journals.

My father arrived in America at the age of 5 from a Displaced Persons camp in Leipheim, established for Holocaust survivors in 1945. My mother’s parents were both Holocaust survivors. In the close-knit Brooklyn Hasidic community where I grew up, everyone I knew—all my friends, classmates, and relatives—were children and grandchildren of survivors. We did not call ourselves immigrants—we were American-born, after all—but an immigrant’s sensibility, the sense that at any moment our freedoms could be taken from us, flowed like blood through our veins. Always, an awareness of how lucky we were.