Introduced to Britain by the Normans, the name Emma originated as a short form of compound names that contained the element erm(en), irm(en), meaning "entire, whole".
It is sometimes used as a nickname for Emily, but this is not etymologically justified.
Emma Lazarus was an American poet and writer. She was born in New York on July 22, 1849 and died at the young age of 38 on November 19,1887 of Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Emma is most known for her sonnet "The New Colossus," which is inscribed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
Born into a cultured family of Portuguese Sephardic Jewish descent, Emma received an extensive education including languages and literature. She began writing as a child.
Her works include: "Admetus and Other Poems" (1871), "Alide: An Episode of Goethe's Life" (1874), "The Spagnoletto" (1876), "Songs of a Semite: The Dance to Death and Other Poems" (1882), "An Epistle to the Hebrews" (1882), "The New Colossus" (1883), "By the Waters of Babylon" (1887)
Emma's life came to a turning point in the 1880s when she became aware of the anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia and Germany. At this time she became an impassioned spokeswoman for Judaism, writing many essays and poems on the subject of the persecution of Jews of Europe. She worked tirelessly to organize relief efforts for the thousands of new immigrants to the U.S.
Emma is known as an important forerunner of the Zionist movement. She argued for the creation of a Jewish homeland thirteen years before Herzl gave it a name, Zionism.
The New Colossus
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-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Emma Lazarus, 1883