Childhood Friends Die Together in Sandy

Young and Caring, They Leave Behind Memories of Good Deeds

Short Lives: Jacob Vogelman and Jessie Streich-Kest left memories of their shared commitment to social justice.
Short Lives: Jacob Vogelman and Jessie Streich-Kest left memories of their shared commitment to social justice.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published November 02, 2012, issue of November 09, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

They were close friends from childhood with a shared commitment to helping others. Now Jessie Streich-Kest and Jacob Vogelman are being buried just two days apart after being crushed by a falling tree in Brooklyn in the midst of Hurricane Sandy.

Streich-Kest, 24, was a young teacher dedicated to social justice. Vogelman, 23, was a student known for his eagerness to lend a helping hand.

The two were walking with Steich-Kest’s dog in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn at the height of the storm on October 29. They were found dead the following morning. Vogelman’s funeral is scheduled for November 2. Streich-Kest’s is set for November 4.

Streich-Kest “really had such a strong sense of how to treat people and what was right, and a real passion for life and for social change,” said Eric Zachary, a longtime family friend, in an interview with the Forward. “Here’s a young person whose integrity was unquestioned.”

“He died going to help a friend,” Vogelman’s father Lawrence Vogelman told Reuters.

Streich-Kest and Vogelman were two of the 38 people killed in New York City by the massive late November storm. More than 80 people were killed around the U.S., with many more displaced.

Streich-Kest’s death has rocked the tight-knit New York City social justice community, of which her parents are leading members. Her father, Jon Kest, is executive director of New York Communities for Change and former director of New York ACORN; her mother, Francine Streich, works for the United Federation of Teachers, the New York City teacher’s union. Kest is seriously ill, according to news reports.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Streich-Kest had started a job as a 10th grade special education teacher at the Bushwick High School for Social Justice just months before her death. Friends said she had just finished conducted her first parent-teacher conferences.

“It feels like she was just getting her footing,” said Barbara Gross, another friend of her family. “She found her way to teaching and she loved it. It brought so many things together for her – her commitment to young people, her [commitment to] social justice.”

Streich-Kest was a poet, an athlete, and a movie fan with a deep love for animals, those who knew her told the Forward. Streich-Kest has campaigned against the use of carriage horses in Central Park. Many spoke of her commitment to Max, her pit bull.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.