13 September 2013

Published September 11, 2013 by rochellewisoff


As always, writers are encouraged to be as innovative as possible with the prompt and 100 word constraints. 

Henry David Thoreau said it best.

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

😀 Be sure to wish Jackie P  and Perry Block a happy birthday this week! They both celebrate Thursday the 12th.😀


Write a one hundred word story that has a beginning, middle and end. (No one will be ostracized for going a few words over the count.)


Make every word count.


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  • Shalom,


Copyright - Jan Wayne Fields

Copyright – Jan Wayne Fields

get the InLinkz code

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100


            “Rachel, would you please read this sentence for us?” The English teacher’s intense gaze shot through the young woman as she pointed to the page.       

            This new land with its unfamiliar ways and language challenged her. She’d dreamt of freedom. Instead, New York’s Lower East Side bore much similarity to her poverty-stricken village in Moldavia. 

            “I try, Miss Lazarus.” Twisting and untwisting her shawl fringes, she read, “‘Ve holt dese troots’…Ikh ken nit…I cannot…”

            “‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men’…all people…‘are created equal.’” Emma Lazarus took Rachel’s hands in hers. “You can. You will. You must.”


While you may never have heard of Emma Lazarus, if you’re a U. S. citizen you’re probably familiar with, at least, a portion of her poem inside the base of the Statue of Liberty:


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-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus

To read about this amazing woman click here. 

This article is only the tip of the iceberg. If you’re interested do a Google search to learn more. I did.😉

108 comments on “13 September 2013

    • Dear Elephant,

      Nice of you to say so. I hadn’t thought about this going up on 9-11 but it does seem to fit the day. Emma was a remarkable lady, indeed. When my research trail led me to her I knew she was my subject.

      Thank you and Shalom,



  • Rochelle, I love the heart that is in all your stories.
    I was aware of the more famous lines of that poem but not the rest of it. Hopefully I have an excuse though, being from Canada.🙂 Great, great story, as always.


    • Dear David,

      This story was a learning experience for the writer. I, too, knew just oft’ repeated few lines of the poem. I knew Emma Lazarus was the poet, but that’s where my knowledge stopped. And I don’t have being Canadian as an excuse,😉

      As I read about her I knew I had to incorporate her into my story. Glad you liked it.




  • The story and poem all work well for Sept. 11. Good thing you didn’t post on Friday. 🙂 The story is a lovely reminder of where many of us came from and the opportunities afforded by this not perfect but wonderful country.



    • Dear Janet,

      In all honesty, I wasn’t thinking about 9-11 when I chose this picture and wrote this story. One of those koinky-dinks, I think.😉
      I’m happy to have you back in our midst now that you’re moved and somewhat settled. Glad you liked the story. Sweet to see your other half back as well.




  • What a glorious tribute and especially on this day. The immigrants of that era worked very hard to acclimate themselves to a new country and become “true Americans.” I wish more people had that spirit today.


    • Dear Russell,

      I treasure your comment. I’m only a second generation American on my mother’s side. My grandfather came over in 1903 to escape the Russian draft at the age of 19. He hitchhiked to St. Louis from NYC. No one learned Yiddish to accommodate him I might add. He was a true American mit a thick accent.




    • I hope you don’t mind, I have to insert myself here into your comment. It is a glorious tribute. You said it perfectly, Russell. I’d like to share something from my experience working with women immigrating from Mexico and other South American Countries to help them get a GED and watching how hard they work to learn not only to speak English, but also learn how to read it, write it and understand the nuances and irregularities of English grammar well enough to pass an eight hour exam covering topics many “true Americans” don’t have a clue about, i.e. our own history. Seeing how badly they want to make a better life for their children, and knowing first hand how much of the public feels animosity about their status, it is humbling to witness their determination in the face of such daunting challenges.


  • A great choice for today, Rochelle.

    The minute Rachel said ‘Miss Lazzarus’ I knew where you were going. I know what Emma wrote, but not that much about her, thanks for the link. Have you read her plays?

    Thanks, Jan for the pic… were you on a little boat, that’s what it looks like?


    • Dear Ted,

      No I haven’t read her plays. I might have to add them to my bucket list of good reads, though. I learned a lot in research for this little vignette. Glad you liked it.

      Jan says to tell you that he took the picture from a bigger boat, ie a ferry.




  • Rochelle I really think you have cornered the market in this genre you have, where a touching/emotionally tugging tale then ‘re-enacts’ a historical happening one truly wishes one knew about. Part fact, part fiction, your tales are always beautifully personified,and always come from an interesting angle.


  • I just posted/reblogged my 9/11 ‘memorial’ post from last year that tells about mine and Wayne’s trip to New York and other states in the northeast in 1998 when we saw the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and all those wonderful places there and took our photos of the World Trade Center’s twin towers. Who would have ever thought possible the events and tragedy after that? I have been recently posting chapters of my genealogy story/novel, The Informant’s Agenda (renamed) that deals with the character’s travels to Ukraine and Moldova. After 25-30 chapters, I still do some revising and re-editing on it. How is yours going, Rochelle that you wrote and did a sequel to?


    • Dear Joyce,

      Christian and I went to Ellis Island in 1999. My favorite part of it was standing in the Great Hall imagining my grandfather as one of the many Eastern European immigrants on one of the long benches.

      I have to admit I was blissfully unaware of the twin towers on that trip and it’s unsettling to look at pictures I took from the ferry and see them in the background.

      Still no takers on publishing PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME. I’m in the fourth part of the second FROM SILT AND ASHES as far as editing goes.

      Thanks for dropping by. Nice to touch base.




    • Dear Tom,

      Nothing thrills me more than research and learning something new, particularly when it comes to history. Thank you for the glowing compliment. I’ll shrink my head and get back to work now.




    • Dear Joe,

      I can’t imagine the challenges my grandparents faced. We used to laugh at Grandpa’s thick accent and never stopped to think. I wish I’d known him better, but he wasn’t the kind one could get close to. I do know that he came over to escape the Russian draft and was a self-taught, successful tailor.

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting.




    • Dear Björn,

      Your comment makes me happy. I think if I had it to do over again, I might go back to school and earn a teaching degree. This is the next best thing, or possibly the best thing to research and share as I learn.

      Thank you for coming by.




    • Dear Draliman,

      You are ahead of of most Americans in respect to the poem. I only knew the last few lines myself. I knew it was written by Emma Lazarus, but knew little about the person. Glad you liked my story.




  • Fantastic. The very people who built this country experienced something like this in the beginning. In the end, they triumphed. It’s good that you remind us of our roots. Outstanding, Rochelle!


  • At one point because of the languages spoken at home my mother-in-law was often used as an interpreter for new students – as a student herself. As a child she spoke and understood about three or four different languages. Your writing is a tribute to all who have come to, help create and visit the freedom that exists here.

    Thank you.


  • Yes, it was a turning point for our country after 9/11. I have always loved the story of Emma Lazarus’s and her epic poem. I have books I bought on the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island when we were there too, and cannot forget how moved I was of the whole trip and experience visiting Battery Park, Ellis Island and Lady Liberty. Stay encouraged about the book. I have tried to look at mine like this: if I only have written for my eyes, it is enough of a happiness and contentment, but as writers we all want to share our stories and hang on to our dreams, and see them fulfilled, so we remain hopeful.


  • Hi Rochelle,
    Loved it. We are a nation of immigrants and we should never forget that. We are a mix of people who at some point got on a boat and started a new life. It must be an emotional moment when you pass that big statue in the harbor and look for the first time on your new home. Ron


    • Dear Ron,

      My grandparents must’ve felt that elation as they passed her. We do take much for granted since we haven’t had to endure those hardships. My worst “hardship” is when my internet goes down. Glad you dropped by and always pleased when someone loves my story.




  • Awesome! Both the story and the poem. I’d never read that poem. Only knew part of it from a game I play (Civilization V – when you create the Statue of Liberty wonder). Don’t laugh lol! They obviously refuse to teach these necessary things in American schools anymore opting for more necessary things like…Auto Mechanics and Wood Shop! lol… (No offense to anyone. I am only joking. In high school, if I could’ve taken Underwater Basket Weaving or Ice Fishing as a class to get out of brain work, I would have! Veteran of Home Economics and Gym, here.😀 )

    Definitely wish the greater portion of people in my neck of the woods would be forced read this before they proceeded to waste precious exhaled breath and say useless crap like, “Dammit! If ya come here, learn the damn language!” and “Close the effin’ borders! Border patrol!” After all, most of us are of the lineage of immigrants, right? Unless you’re named Robert Walking Eagle (for obvious reasons – so full of sh*t ya can’t fly!😀 )…

    Anyway, great story! Loved it. Throwing my lot in in the links after a not-so-brief hiatus, by the way.🙂 …Just not sure I can keep it every week. It’s fun nonetheless!


  • Outstanding as always! I have always loved that poem, but never looked into who wrote it. I’m kind of glad it was a woman. Being part Native American and part German (my great grandparents came over from Germany to get away from the war) I like to think I’m a part of the American welcome wagon. Being Indian I understand being the ‘welcomer’ and being German I understand being the immigrant. (Also want to thank you for the birthday wishes!)🙂


  • Rochelle- This is fabulous.You blended language and dialect really well. I just recently had a discussion with a friend who recently became a citizen. She was fascinated by the fact that in order to pass her citizen test she knew move about American governmental history then most of her American friends.And again I love that you wove history into the tale and taught me something new.


  • Rochelle,
    Now that I am home from class and have a minute to leave a proper comment, I just want to say that I always learn something here. I admire how you research the back story for your stories. It makes them real. You give the characters depth in 100 words or less. No small task. I did click the link you provided for more info about Emma Lazarus and discovered she is buried in Beth-Olom Cemetery in NY. I am going to NY soon and am thinking I will make it my mission to find that cemetery. I’ll let you know how it goes.


  • I loved your story – and now I want to learn more about Emma Lazarus, I don’t recall learning about her before now. This was my first time participating in this fun project of yours. I can tell this is going to be addicting – a good addiction!🙂


  • I haven’t written a story this week but on seeing the photo thought of immigrants. Your story is excellent just on its own, but is deepened by the tie-in to Emma Lazarus. My husband’s family came to England in the 70s, when he was 10. He had an agonised time due to racism, including from school teachers. (The headmaster of his first school used to stand next to him in assembly to make sure he was singing ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ – he used to sing ‘Onward Muslim Soldiers’ in defiance, though he is not a practising Muslim)! He was also forced to eat pork in school dinners. We are no strangers to racism even now, I, due to my surname through marriage! Sorry about this epistle, obviously your story hit a nerve! Good for you! Ann


  • I loved this touching lesson. I especially like how the teacher’s intense gaze “shot” through her. Oh that’s such an awful feeling and “shot” so succinctly describes a whole range of emotions that she would be feeling in that situation.

    And, of course, I always get a mini-lesson about subjects I would never have taken the time to seek out in my life. I love how your responses to these challenges take me off the beaten path of my normal thinking and show me a glimpse of another world of thought and imagination!


    • Dear Linda,

      I’m happy to be your tour guide off the beaten path. As I find these historical nuggets it’s great fun to share them, thus joining two passions: research and writing. Thank you for dropping by with such glowing comments.




  • Rochelle,
    You really captured the experience of immigrants in this small space. I imagine for many it was quite a letdown and not an easy road. Thanks for including the poem. I’ll admit I’m most familiar with those last lines.


    • Dear Amy,

      There are so many stories of immigrants to found poverty and prejudice rather than prosperity and freedom. I confess that I didn’t, heretofore, know the whole poem either.😉 Thanks for swinging by and commenting.


  • Wonderfully informative and touching. The words “You can. You will. You must.” could be interpreted as bullying, but with the action of Miss Lazarus taking Rachel’s hands you soften them to encouragement and hope.


    • Dear Sarah Ann,

      It just seemed to me what Emma Lazarus would’ve said to one of the immigrants she worked so hard to help and teach. I’m glad that the encouragement and tenderness I envisioned came across.

      Thank you for your kind words.




  • What a fun idea! I added mine to Linkz. I hope you like it.🙂

    You do a great job of capturing characters within only a few words.
    I read some of the other stories submitted and I am impressed with the talent here. Kudos all around!


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