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.

Star Colossus

by Ayelet Amittay




I was born a giant. I held fire
in one hand, the book of justice
in the other. I was born to metal
and flame, the rain and sea
cooled me, I greened as a forest
as the water rose. It is not enough
to pull into my harbor. Now
I stand at a locked door
without gold. The waters will rise
and rise and my fire cannot burn
underwater. Instead
each joint and joist of me
will rise in a constellation.
I will burn among the stars, visible
from any ocean. If you are not welcome
in the new world, you are still
welcome in the sky with me.