Throughout his life, John Jacobs made it his mission to fight for those who could not fight for themselves.

John E. Jacobs, 73, of Huntington Woods, died July 1, 2020.

A native Detroiter, John attended Mumford High School, graduated from Michigan State University and earned his juris doctor from the University of Michigan Law School.
Along the way, he met and married Gilda; together they raised two beautiful daughters, Jessica and Rachel.

John grew up at Temple Beth El, but his family did not take an active role in the Jewish community. As an adult, he realized that he missed having a Jewish education. He and Gilda made the decision to create a strong Jewish environment for their daughters and joined Temple Emanu-El. John ultimately assumed the presidency of the congregation.

He also served on the boards of the Jewish Community Center, Jewish Vocational Services and Tamarack Camps and is a past president of Jewish Family Service and the Michigan Regional Advisory Board of the Anti-Defamation League. Additionally, he was chair of the Jewish Eldercare Services Committee (COJES), the Federation Community Services Division and the Government Relations Oversight Committee (GROC).

John had been particularly drawn to serve in places where he felt he could make a difference. In the case of COJES, he recognized the needs of our Jewish elderly and sought to coordinate services for them. At JFS, he felt compelled to help those who were financially challenged or who suffered from domestic abuse, helping to make the Windows Program a reality. At ADL, he helped fight for those who did not have a voice, who would otherwise have been forced to work on Jewish holidays. In his role with GROC, he lobbied legislators for financial support for the Jewish community, ensuring that state dollars were allocated for Jews as well as Chaldeans and Muslims.

He also fought to strengthen the Oak Park/Southfield Jewish communities, recognizing the important role that they play in our broad Jewish community. The need to support others was at the very heart of everything he did. From the time he made his first gift to the Allied Jewish Campaign to the present day, John worked to build a better future for everyone.

Mr. Jacobs is survived by his beloved wife of 49 years, Gilda Jacobs; cherished child, Jessica (Joshua) Steinhart; son-in-law, Todd Waldman. He was the loving Papa of Jacob Waldman, Lyle and Ruby Steinhart; dear brother of Elizabeth Jacobs and Charles Jacobs; brother-in-law of Karen and Robert Wildau; loving nieces, a nephew and a world of friends.

He was the father of the late Rachel H. Jacobs; devoted son of the late Hyman and the late Lillian Zalenko.

Contributions may be made to the Rachel Jacobs Fund at JVS, Jewish Hospice and Chaplaincy Network or a charity of one’s choice. Interment was at Machpelah Cemetery. Arrangements by Ira Kaufman Chapel.

Look for an in-depth remembrance of John Jacobs in the July 16 issue.


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