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.
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“Her and Max were inseparable,” Gross said.

Others said they remembered her as a leader. “People kind of flocked to her,” said Rabbi Ellen Lippman, spiritual leader of Kolot Chayeinu, a progressive synagogue in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where Streich-Kest became bat mitzvah. “She had, even as a young person, a great ability to cross generations with a caring beyond her years.”

Lippman will conduct Streich-Kest’s funeral.

Streich-Kest grew up in Prospect Park South, a few blocks from the park. She went to middle school at Brooklyn Friends School, where she met Vogelman, and later attended Edward R. Murrow High School in the Midwood section.

On Streich-Kest’s Facebook wall, friends posted remembrances describing her as supportive and open-hearted. One writer described how she helped him come out as gay; another remembered tutoring students with her in West Philadelphia.

She was also an organizer. In a 2007 blog post, former ACORN chief organizer Wade Rathke described how Streich-Kest, then a college student, had set up a meeting between then-Senator Barack Obama and ACORN officials while volunteering with the Obama campaign in New York.

“Having overheard at home that ACORN’s leaders were having trouble getting a meeting with the Senator finally put together, she saw the opportunity and seized it, raising the point with the NY campaign manager,” Rathke wrote. “Jesse re-teaches us all a simple organizing lesson. It’s not just a matter of being at the right place at the right time. It really is knowing to seize that time!”

Friends are taking donations to make a gift to an animal rescue shelter in her memory.

In a blog post, New York City Councilman Brad Lander wrote that he had known Streich-Kest through her political work.

“[S]he was energetic and tireless and a lot of fun,” Lander wrote. “And she followed up to lobby our office (very persistently) on the cause of animal rights, something she felt very passionately about.”

Vogelman, a graduate of SUNY Buffalo, was a student in a masters’ program at Brooklyn College. His mother Marcia Sikowitz is a housing court judge in Brooklyn, his father an attorney and former law professor.

“I keep expecting him just to walk through the door,” Sikowitz told the Daily Beast. Sikowitz learned of her son’s death when she called his cell phone on Tuesday morning and an NYPD detective answered.

Vogelman grew up at Congregation Beth Elohim, a Reform synagogue in Park Slope. Rabbi Andy Bachman, that synagogue’s spiritual leader, will conduct his funeral.

Vogelman’s family has asked for donations in his name to be made to Learning Ally, an organization that provides services to dyslexic children.


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