Matt Jacobson, Levey class of 1986, and life-long Mainer, is the Business Development Manager for J.S. McCarthy Printers in Augusta. He has served and held leadership positions for three Chamber of Commerce organizations, a Lions Club, and was an active volunteer (with his wife and dog) within the Pet Therapy program of Maine Medical Center. Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors for the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine, where he serves on the finance committee, annual campaign leadership team, development committee and is the chair of Center Day Camp. He recently began volunteering at the Maine Jewish Museum as the Development Coordinator of the Corporate Partner Program – a role and program that he developed for the organization. When he’s not working and volunteering, he lives in Windham, Maine with his wife Jessica, daughter Ella and golden retriever, Gauge.
Levey Day School: Can you tell us one of your fondest memories of Levey? Matt Jacobson: My fondest memories of Levey come from the development of my Jewish identity and lifelong friendships I built with classmates. As I reflect on the experiences of my Levey education, I’m thankful to my family for providing me that opportunity. I truly believe the unique experience helped shape the person I am today, both in terms of my religious and spiritual values, and my desire to execute the Jewish teachings of mitzvot, tzidakah, and tikkun olam. I’m so excited for our daughter, Ella, to be a Levey student in two years.
Levey: What is special about the Jewish Community of Maine? MJ: Growing up Jewish in Maine is complex, but once you understand how special it is, your perspective on humanity and the world around you can change, as it did for me. As Maine is predominantly a non-Jewish state, you are challenged quickly in life with the task of defending your values and religion through education. From a very young age, I remember experiencing significant anti-Semitism. The complexity of this subject was hard to understand as a youth, but I’m extremely thankful for the teachings and education provided to me. With the foundation I was given, I was able to build the tools I needed to cope, as well as educate others that although my religious beliefs and practices may be different, we are all human and have a place in this world. When I meet people from all around the world and tell them I’m Jewish, they always joke and say, “I didn’t know there were Jews in Maine…”, then I laugh and teach them about our diverse, strong and prominent community.
Levey: What does leadership mean to you? MJ: As a leader in our Jewish community, my goal is to continue to dedicate my time, energy and money to ensure our children, and those beyond our community, have a safe, healthy and strong Jewish and secular education system. I work hard, because those before me worked even harder…to ensure our safety and position in this world. The values and work ethic instilled upon me from my family, teachers, Rabbi and community have shaped the leader I am today. I hope to inspire the next generation of Jewish leaders to continue our mission.
Levey: What advice would you have for our Levey students, or any young person today? MJ: I have lots of advice for young people, but if I have to choose one thing to say, it would be to enjoy all the experiences of your youth and don’t rush time. Be a sponge and soak in all information you are given. Learn from your mentors, but develop an intellectually independent mind. Find something to be passionate about and put your heart and soul into it. Life can be challenging, rewarding and complex, so surround yourself with people who can think critically and support you… I guess that’s more than one!