Many a scholar and many a liberal have looked with increasing concern at not only the plight of the European Jew, but also at the rising tides of anti-Semitism in our own country. Even at Harvard, the Jewish student is received and treated upon a slightly different basis from his fellow students. And although this difference is, fortunately, very slight and is limited to social activities (clubs, dances) the fact that at this time it exists at all is a threat to the future. This slight difference can grow; and if our country enters upon a period of social and economic upheaval, as well it might, this difference may grow to alarming proportions.
Few people have a practical answer to this problem; and many Aryans and Jews alike are too apathetic to have any answer at all. But there are some organizations which are facing this problem sensibly; and one of these is the Avukah.
To those who are unfamiliar with the workings of the Avukah, it seems both impractical and ineffectual. This idea is, in fact, false. A large organization, it has chapters at every important college or university with frequent local, regional and national councils. It occupies itself with the problem of bettering the Jewish position all over the world and especially in America. Cooperating with all sorts of committees for the preservation of civil liberties, it works, first of all, to protect the Jew from the dangers of fascism and reaction. It is, of course, a Zionist organization. But this problem, too, it treats on a practical basis. It does not advocate transporting every Jew to Palestine. Rather, it confines itself to raising money to buy land in Palestine and to sending there many of its ablest members to investigate and help this project. But its most important and effective work is done with American and foreign Jews who intend to live in this country. It is primarily concerned with teaching Jews what it believes to be the correct attitudes they should adopt towards democracy and their future. Outside of its councils at which many prominent men speak, it organizes youth movements and tries to educate the Jewish community from within. It educates by a method of "learning through doing"; it has summer camps at which young Jews can learn trades. At these camps scholars and students have washed dishes, tinkered with motors, and most important, successfully run farm-communities on a strictly cooperative basis.
Though it has as members only twelve per cent of the Jewish student body, the Harvard Avukah Chapter is as large and as active as any organization at college. It is for that reason significant. it is significant also because it is facing with courage and with practical activity a problem of the future which is a concern both of the non-Jews and of Jews themselves. It is trying to educate the Jew to live in an Aryan culture without destroying his own. Because it acts with other liberal organizations, it is a most important force for the preservation of the democratic spirit in young minds. And by helping the Jews, it is doing its part to keep from all Americans the horrors of anti-Semitism and Fascism at home.