Close Friend of Amtrak Victim Rachel Jacobs: 'She Was a Loving and Passionate Woman'
"She wanted to make a positive impact on this world and was never afraid to try," Rachel Jacob's friend Noha Waibsnaider tells PEOPLE
“I always knew how many people loved her,” Noha Waibsnaider, a close friend of Jacobs, tells PEOPLE. “But it’s unbelievable how many people have come forward since this tragedy. She made time for everyone.”
Jacobs didn’t just have a lot of friends – she had a loving husband, Todd, and a 2-year-old son named Jacob. She lived with her family in New York City and commuted twice a week to Philadelphia for work.
“She had an amazing relationship with Todd. They were so well-suited for each other,” Waibsnaider says. “She really had it all.”
After graduating from Columbia Business School in 2002, Jacobs, a three-time marathon runner who loved to dance, hike, camp, and travel, ended up landing a job as CEO of online learning start-up ApprenNet.
“Rachel was a woman who always worked hard and wanted a challenge. She put one foot in front of the other, no matter how hard something was,” says Waibsnaider, who met Jacobs at business school. “She enjoyed every second of her life.”
Almost every Monday for the last 12 years, Jacobs, Waibsnaider, and a group of their good girlfriends would get together for dinner.
“We would talk about our careers, relationships, and just life,” she says. “Todd said we should name the group ‘Monday Night Mommies’ when we all started having babies.”
Jacobs and her husband would travel and she would come back to New York City and come up with unique and local cuisines for the group’s weekly dinners.
“She taught us about a dish she had in Georgia and introduced us to a Russian disco at Brighton Beach,” she says. “I told her just last week that she was beaming and looked so happy. Even if she was coming back from Philadelphia, she made it to dinner. She always made effort and showed up to everything.”
Another great friend, Michelle Kedem, who was also part of the Monday night dinners, says that no one can wrap their heads around this tragedy.
“There are no words for how devastating this is,” Kedem tells PEOPLE. “She was the most charismatic, compelling and kind person.”
She was also passionate about motherhood – her son Jacob always came first.
“She went to New Orleans Jazz Fest with Todd and Jacob [a couple weeks ago],” says Kedem. “They were very engaged, lived their life, and Jacob was a huge part of it.”
As the group’s Monday night dinners continue, Waibsnaider acknowledges that they will never be the same.
“We will be missing a Mommy,” she says. “A very important one.”
Rachel’s family would like to create a scholarship in her name for women social entrepreneurs at Columbia University.