Rachel Jacobs Reported Killed In Amtrak Derailment

Rachel Jacobs Reported Killed In Amtrak Derailment

News of her death brings the Jewish death toll to two.

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.

Justin Zemser, 20, of Far Rockaway Queens, was also killed in the derailment. He was a Jewish sophomore at the U.S. Naval Academy who aspired to become a Navy SEAL. Zemser was a talented athlete and had been a valedictorian of his high school class, the New York Times reported. He had also volunteered with a local Special Olympics team.

His family released a statement mourning “a loving son, nephew and cousin who was very community-minded” and saying his death “has shocked us all in the worst way.”

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

She was commuting back and forth from her Manhattan home, which she reportedly shared with her husband and son, when the derailment occurred.

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.

The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent contributed to this report.

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