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.

Whither Goest Thou?

by Sophia Haber




A timbrel, a torch: every woman has her
Weapon. From sea to shining sea the
Women dance in one eternal circle, like
Eve when she took that first breath and
Decided to be. On the shores of a new
And old land one bronze lady embraces
Her children, lets them roam her feet and
Heart and fingertips. Like a leper she stands
At the gate to the city. Milk and honey, red
Fruits and seeds: these tastes of promise
Linger on her warm and stoic lips. The
Moment they put her together, head on
Neck, rib over rib she said: here I am.
What does she hide in those serpentine
Robes?—the severed head of Holofernes,
Samson’s flowing locks? No matter, every
Woman has her secrets. Now the salty
Mikvah of the ocean laps at her toes, in
And out, in and out. Forever she prepares
To wed the promise of this land.