The enormous girl planted caftaned
knees wide and started to talk, hands waving, conducting herself like a one piece orchestra.
(15) "As an affluent, secular, American Jew," writes Esther Schor in her welcome, award-winning biography, "Emma Lazarus felt no compunction about perceiving the Eastern European Jew as a benighted, 'caftaned
wretch.'" (16) On one hand, it would be perverse to demean Lazarus's deep and sincere sympathy for the oppressed or to question the bold nationalist and ethnic assertiveness that impelled her to redefine the Statue of Liberty as "Mother of Exiles" and give the Statue, as James Russell Lowell suggested at the time, a worthy "raison d'etre" it had beforehand lacked.
And she was not afraid to face herself: her own shame at being sister to the 'caftaned
Jew'; her own erotic desires; her own vaulting, later chastened, ambition.