Rachel Jacobs, chief of online education start-up, killed in Amtrak crash


(JTA) – Rachel Jacobs, a 39-year-old mother and the daughter of former Michigan State Senator Gilda Jacobs, was reportedly killed in the Amtrak train derailment on Tuesday.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that a friend of Jacobs, Michelle Kedem, had received a text message from Jacobs’ family confirming her death.

Jacobs was among seven people confirmed dead following the derailment Tuesday in Philadelphia that injured more than 200.

Jacobs was recently hired as the CEO of ApprenNet, an online education start-up based in the University City section of West Philadelphia.

The 1997 graduate of Swarthmore College was commuting back and forth from her Manhattan home, which she reportedly shared with her husband and son.

Jacobs, who grew up in the Detroit suburb of Huntington Woods, Mich., spoke of her deep connection to Jewish community in a 2011 interview she gave to a Detroit fellow with Repair the World, a national nonprofit Jewish service-learning program that has a West Philadelphia-based branch.

“When we think about what it means to be Jewish, it’s very much focused on building community,” she said in describing Detroit Nation, a nonprofit group she co-founded in 2010 to help Detroit natives stay connected and involved even if they didn’t live there.

She said her family had always been involved in the Jewish and general communities of Detroit. “Going back to high school, I was very involved with NFTY,” she said of the Reform movement’s youth group. “I was the social action president for the Michigan chapter.”

The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent contributed to this report. 

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