Insight on Immigration & Education

JILL CASLIN ARCHIVIST

Our very own Jose Luis was featured in the Westchester Jewish Chronicle in June 2006, in an article entitled “Mamaroneck synagogue reaches out to help area immigrants.” Immigrant families had visited WJC to ask 35 bilingual lawyers, doctors, teachers, and employment specialists how to solve the daily problems of living among strangers in a new country. The program was organized by WJC, Mamaroneck Schools, Westchester County, and the Hispanic Resource Center.

Jose Luis Fonseca, Superintendent of the Westchester Jewish Center, shared his own experiences and emphasized the importance of education. He said he has had to work since he was seven years old. He left Mexico 18 years ago as an 18-year-old undocumented migrant. He worked in the farm fields of California and later cleaned offices in Westchester before landing a job with the synagogue. In between and since, he has taken courses at New Rochelle High School, BOCES, and elsewhere.

Today, he has a staff of four, his own office, and a three-bedroom apartment in the Center for himself, his wife Lucia, and their three children. Both he and his wife drive their own cars. They own a house in New Rochelle which they rent out. And their children go to the Mamaroneck schools.

Fonseca urged the immigrants to “Learn English. Get special skills. I’m not a special person. I’m just like you. I want to make sense of my life. So do you. You can do it too.”

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