Page 95 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 7 (1948-1949)

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MORDELL----100TH BIRTHDAY OF EMMA LAZARUS
83
fraternal and practical movement. She also sought to have Jews
return to varied economic pursuits and follow the intellectual
education of their ancestors. She called for a wider study of
Hebrew literature and history. Above all she demanded recogni-
tion of certain principles of religion and law upon which Judaism
is founded. Thus she anticipated to some degree the views of
Ahad Ha'am. She sought the support of every Jew for Zionism;
she urged upon him “ a patriotic and unselfish interest in the
sufferings of his oppressed brethren of less fortunate countries,
sufficient to make him promote by every means in his power the
establishment of a secure asylum.” “By virtue of our racial and
religious connection with these hapless victims of anti-Jewish
cruelty,” she added, “we feel that it devolves upon us to exert
our utmost strength towards securing for them permanent protec-
tion.” (Sections VII and VIII of “An Epistle to the Hebrews.”)
Miss Lazarus soon took up the study of Hebrew under Louis
Schnabel, an Austrian journalist and teacher, who had founded
Young Israel
, a magazine, and prepared students for Hebrew
Union College. She soon made her first translation directly from
the Hebrew and proudly sent it to Cowen for the
American
Hebrew
, saying it was from some Spanish-Jewish poet, but that
she did not know from which one. I t was called “Consolation”
and appeared in the issue of May 11, 1883. Her sisters did not
include it in
The Poems of Emma Lazarus.
A facsimile of the eight
line poem with the four line Hebrew original from which the trans-
lation was made appears on page 338 of
Memories of an American
Jew
by Philip Cowen (1932). Meanwhile poems connected with
topics of Jewish import had been flowing from her pen. By the fall
of 1882 there had been sufficient to make a volume with her drama
The Dance to Death
and her translations from the Spanish Jewish
poets. I t was called
Songs of a Semite.
The
Century Magazine
(January 1883) reviewing it said she had “developed a line which
called out her very best resources.” I t added: “Her success
hitherto has been among Christians rather than among her own
folk.” Incidentally the volume was the only one issued by her
subsequent to her entry into the new field. No other book between
the date of her Heine translations in 1881 and that of her death
in 1887 appeared from her pen. The play was dedicated to the
memory of George Eliot “who did most among the artists of our
day towards elevating and ennobling the spirit of Jewish nation-
ality.” Miss Lazarus was now committed to Zionism. She realized
that pleas for toleration, statistics about Jewish ability, social
data showing comparative freedom from crime, clear evidence of
Jewish patriotism, and demands for emancipation were surface
remedies for injustice to the Jews in foreign lands. Even though