When you ask Marilyn Jacobs what she values most in her life, she answers quickly and with conviction: Family, Judaism and Community.
Marilyn was born in Joliet, Illinois, and raised by a loving aunt and uncle until her teens, when she moved to Wisconsin with her mother and stepfather. During her sophomore year of college, Marilyn attended a synagogue dance and met Gerson Jacobs (z’ll), the love of her life. They were married four months later and Gerson was deployed shortly thereafter to Korea as a medical doctor. When Gerson returned from the army, they moved to New York where Marilyn finished her teaching degree and Gerson finished his residency.
They moved to Philadelphia where he pursued research, and they started a family. In 1958, Gerson was invited to lecture in San Francisco. They both fell in love with the Bay Area, and within two months, the family relocated. Upon visiting Marin, they realized that this was where they dreamed of living.
They settled in Lucas Valley, in their brand new Eichler home in a diverse neighborhood. To enhance her own knowledge, Marilyn helped create and organize a lecture series for interested neighbors, who met weekly with a UC Berkeley professor and studied literature, poetry, and other subjects.
The family quickly joined Rodef Sholom, the only synagogue in Marin, which was renting space inside the Jewish Community Center at Mission and Forbes. The synagogue moved into the current building in 1962, and Marilyn and Gerson became very involved. Marilyn was chair of the religious school, and both served on the Board of Directors.
Being Jewish has always been a central part of Marilyn’s life. “I adored my grandfather who was a cantor. I loved showing him new things I learned in Hebrew school, and I think that was my reason for loving Judaism.”
The Jacobs’ raised their two sons with strong Jewish values and a love for Judaism, while also exposing them to other religions and cultures.
In 1964, the family moved to Greenbrae, the same house that Marilyn lives in today. Both sons are married and remain true to their Jewish values. She has five amazing grandchildren, three great grandchildren, and the family is extraordinarily close. Just mentioning her family lights up her blue eyes and beautiful smile.
Marilyn continues to be involved with the synagogue, sponsoring programs, and attending events when possible. Marilyn recalled, “When Gerson needed bypass heart surgery, about ten congregants offered to donate blood for him.” With that gesture of community, she chaired the blood drive for Mitzvah Day for the next seven years. She currently cooks meals for the B Street Shelter. Some of her neighbors remain very close to her and they get together for birthday lunches. At Marilyn’s suggestion, rather than buying each other gifts, they make donations to the local food bank. She explains, “We are out having a nice lunch, and maybe a few others can as well. It makes sense to share.”