Funeral planned for train crash victim from Detroit

Lauren Abdel-Razzaq
The Detroit News

Rachel Jacobs, the Michigan native who was killed in the Amtrak train crash last week in Philadelphia, was building a legacy of giving back to her hometown.

Now her family wants to keep her memory alive through the foundation she started to better Metro Detroit.

Jacobs was an educational software executive and a co-founder of the nonprofit group Detroit Nation. A Crowd Rise page to benefit the charity has already raised more than $10,000 in three days.

“Rachel Jacobs co-founded Detroit Nation with the mission of supporting the Detroit region by directing the money, skills and energy of native Detroiters now living elsewhere to people and organizations engaged in economic development, cultural innovation and job creation in southeastern Michigan,” the page says.

“Your donation, in memory of Rachel, will go to benefit Detroit-area projects that will continue this mission and leave a lasting legacy in Rachel’s name.”

The family will hold a funeral for Jacobs at 10 a.m. Monday at the Ira Kaufman Chapel, 18325 Nine Mile in Southfield. Interment will follow at Machpelah Cemetery in Ferndale.

The family will sit shiva at their home after the funeral Monday through Wednesday. Religious services will be held each of the days at 7 p.m.

Friends posted messages for her family along with their donations on Crowd Rise.

“In memory of Rachel and the time we spent in college digging (through) the compost pile and rummaging through trash for recyclables,” Jill Rubin wrote. “I remember her smile, her kindness, optimism and brilliance.”

Another donation, which came from Kary Moss, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, said, “There are no words. Thank you Rachel for giving back to Detroit.”

Jacobs was one of eight people killed when the speeding train in Philadelphia derailed as it rounded a 50 mph curve at about 106 mph.

The 39-year-old Huntington Woods native was on her way home to Manhattan from her job as CEO of the Philadelphia startup ApprenNet, where she started working in March.

She was married, with a 2-year-old son.

A graduate of Swarthmore College and Columbia Business School, she had previously worked at another education-technology firm, Ascend Learning, and led the expansion of McGraw-Hill’s career-learning business into China, India and the Middle East.

Jacobs, whose mother is former Michigan state Sen. Gilda Z. Jacobs, started Detroit Nation in 2010.

One of the charity’s accomplishments was arranging the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s first Carnegie Hall concert in 17 years. It also provides pro bono consulting on projects for grassroots entrepreneurs.

Additional survivors include her husband, Todd Waldman; her son, Jacob Kody Waldman; her father, John Jacobs; and her sister, Jessica Steinhart.

The family said those who wish to honor Jacobs can donate to Detroit Nation at jacobsdetroitnation or make a donation to the Downtown Detroit Partnership, Rachel Jacobs Detroit Nation, 600 Renaissance Center, Suite 1740, Detroit, MI 48243.

Gifts in Jacobs’ memory can also be made to Columbia Business School, where her family would like to create a scholarship in her name geared toward aspiring women social entrepreneurs.

That can be done at giveonline/?schoolstyle=140.