Immigrant rights activist Alain Mentha died at the age of 57 on Sunday morning following a 13-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
“Alain was a tireless community leader” wrote Rabbi Leana Moritt of Temple Beth-El in announcing his passing. “He was the founder and champion of Welcome Home Jersey City, a community-based organization that provides educational, employment and material support for refugees and asylum seekers locally. Alain and his family worked tirelessly toward his goal of compassionately giving all newcomers the dignity of a decent home and the resources they need to make better lives for themselves.”
Welcome Home Jersey City’s website describes how Mentha came to the cause of immigrant rights. “In 2016, Alain and Jennifer began volunteering with a local resettlement Agency, in anticipation of a backlash against immigrants and refugees. After befriending a couple from Eritrea with a daughter Amelie’s age, whose apartment they had helped clean and furnish, Alain fell in love with the work and never looked back. Together with Kara Murphy and Laura McBride, Alain co-founded Welcome Home Jersey City in 2017.”
Mentha’s work extended beyond Welcome Home Jersey City. He also founded the Temple Beth-El food pantry.
Said friend and Temple Beth-El President Tom Rosensweet, “Alain was an example for us all. He saw a dire humanitarian situation developing in Jersey City’s refugee and asylee communities. He didn’t just go to a meeting or chip in a few dollars like most of us would do. He imagined a whole new organization that would provide tangible assistance to people in need, and he worked tirelessly to bring it into being and sustain it.”
Mentha is survived by his wife, Jennifer Strong, his daughter Amelie, his mother Jewel Mentha and his brother, Daniel Mentha (Maria, and daughter Angela).
A funeral is planned at Temple Beth-El this morning at 10.30 am.
Donations in Alain’s memory may be made to Welcome Home Jersey City here.