On June 17, 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived at its permanent home in New York Harbor. But did you know that Emma Lazarus, the American poet whose famous words are inscribed on its pedestal, was Jewish?

Lazarus was born in 1849 to a large Sephardic family in New York City. Her ancestors were among the first Jewish immigrants to arrive in New Amsterdam after fleeing the Portuguese Inquisition in 1654.

The celebrated words of Lazarus’s 1883 sonnet “The New Colossus” have greeted countless immigrants and refugees upon their arrival to the United States. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” -Emma Lazarus

Contributor: Jill G. Mundinger