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Remembering Jessie and Jacob

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Jessie Streich-Kest and Jacob Vogelman were killed while walking their dog during last night’s storm. A tree fell and pinned the two, who were not discovered until early this morning.

Jessie Streich-Kest grew up in Ditmas Park and attended Murrow High School. She has friends and family throughout the immediate neighborhood who are grief stricken.

“Jessie was first a student and then a friend of mine,” wrote neighbor Matt MacLean. “I can’t believe that she’s not here anymore. Her passion for animal welfare, political activism, and her new career as a high school teacher were so amazing. We talked not long ago about getting together for another coffee or drink. She could plow through all sorts of obstacles and her fortitude was a sight to behold. My heart goes out to her family. It just doesn’t seem real.”

Jessie’s family released the following statement:

“Just 24 years old, Jessie Streich-Kest left a lasting impression on all who met her, and especially on her students at Bushwick HS for Social Justice, to whom she was deeply committed. Jessie loved life and was deeply devoted to social justice.”

Jacob Vogelman was “a nice guy, very kind and always smiling” remembered Dominique Manzione, a friend of his from high school. Jacob grew up nearby and had attended Goldstein High School near Manhattan Beach. For college, he attended SUNY Buffalo.

Max, the mixed Pit Bull who was on the walk with the couple, was taken by a neighbor to a nearby veterinary hospital to be treated for possible head trauma. A family friend has since taken custody of the dog. Several neighbors have offered to pay for Max’s vet bills. His daily dog walker, neighbor Tom Salgo, has said he would do anything to make sure the family and pet are taken care of. We’ve contacted the family and asked if they need donations for Max’s care. We will update the blog as soon as we hear back.

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125 COMMENTS

  1. Jacob was such a good kid. I grew up with him as my neighbor on our block. he was so bright and good and sweet and always helping. he always wanted to spend time with us and help my mom with groceries and show me his work. What a wonderful kid. Such a promising future, so much care. so much hard work he did. such a big smile. such a big heart

  2. Jacob was the sweetest, most wonderful young man. He was my student at Goldstein and always, always there for us during a production. I am stunned and so, so very sad that he has been taken from us so soon.

  3. Jacob was a beautiful, sweet, loving, helpful, caring, considerate dude. I worked with him for 8 years at a summer-long children’s theater company. Not only did he bring popcicles to the kids every afternoon, he created sets, and rigged up lights, and made a lot of people happy. Most of all, I will remember the neat little chats about life we had in the between times– eating breakfast, getting coffee, snacks, lunch, and watching him wear these weird shoes that made him tall like a giant to all our kids. He was an amazing cyclops one summer, and helped me to rig up a decorated chair to carry in a kid as Queen Hetshepsut. I will miss you, Jake. Every summer he would joke about moving on and getting a different job…and I would tell him at the summer’s end… see you next summer, Jake. Well, I will miss you, and I am SO glad you found love. You were so happy the last time we talked.

  4. Jessie and I were extremely close and I was absolutely devastated when I heard the news. I wanted to share my thoughts here so that everyone would know just how incredible she really was:

    Jessie Streich-Kest was an extraordinary person, and I am tremendously privileged to have been her friend. No one I have ever met has devoted more of her life to service, to social equity, and to her friends than Jessie. Whether it was tutoring students in West Philadelphia, working to help the homeless, or dropping everything to listen to your problems, Jessie always strove to leave a positive mark on the world. There are so many amazing stories to tell about Jessie, like the time she bought a homeless mother food, formula, and diapers for her child, out of the blue. But the memories that are most indelible in my mind are those I shared with Jessie in my freshman year of college at Penn.

    Like many gay teenagers, I was totally closeted when I started my first day at Penn. I was terrified of saying those two, improbably difficult words, “I’m gay,” to any other living soul besides myself. And then I met Jessie. There really is no word to accurately describe how I felt when I met her than the word “safe.” Jessie made me feel safe, because she was unequivocally accepting of people, no matter their sexuality, socioeconomic class, color, ethnicity, or any other perceivable (or unperceivable) difference. She was an absolute warrior for tolerance. She emanated acceptance. That first day with Jessie at Penn, the words that were so hard to say to everyone else simply rolled off my tongue without so much a stutter. I knew that no matter what may happen with any other person in my life, Jessie would always be there, cheering me on in my newfound freedom to be myself. Without Jessie, I would never have had the courage to go to my first event at Penn’s LGBT center and I would have never, EVER, gone to a gay club on my 18th birthday. Six years later, thanks to the self-confidence Jessie helped me discover, I have found the love of my life. And thanks to Jessie’s tireless work for equal rights, I can marry him.

    In short, Jessie Streich-Kest changed my life. My story is just a small piece of her own, one that involves innumerable hours spent caring for friends, working indefatigably for equality, and most recently, shaping a new generation of minds as a teacher. To have lost such a beacon of goodness in this world is unbearable. I will never forget her.

  5. It’s hard to blame anyone for ignoring that warning. The city government has lost all credibility on matters relating to public health/safety. That’s why many people probably believed that this storm posed a threat equal to that of a 20 oz cup of soda.

  6. What good does it do to point that out? Two young people are dead and that is all that matters. We should be grieving them and sharing memories of them and supporting their families and friends through the unbearable pain they surely are feeling. Your insensitive finger wagging does nothing to change what happened, nor does it provide any measure of comfort or support. Please, as a parent, imagine for one second the pain these families must be going through and keep your admonitions to yourself.

  7. “O reassured soul, return to your Lord, well-pleased and pleasing [to Him], and enter among My [righteous] servants, and enter My Paradise.” (Quran, 89:27-30)

    My dear, sweet friend, and sister, Jessie …

    Words cannot express how saddened I am to hear of your tragic passing away. From the day we met in our dorm room at the Global Young Leaders Conference, I knew I had met someone special. You
    were more than just a roommate… so kind, tolerant, and accepting, even though I looked so different than you with my Muslim veil, you always amazed me as you defended social causes, and especially during political discussions about stereotyping Arabs/Muslims.

    On the first night in our dorm, I was a bit worried of your reaction as I began to pray, but you watched me silently and respectfully, and even asked what it meant to be a Muslim. That was meaningful, and so humble of you to express interest and share your thoughts.

    It was so wonderful to keep in touch with you all these years, and even though we planned many times, but never got to see each other again, you will remain alive in my heart.

    From one human to another, a friend to friend, a sister to sister, a Muslim to Jew, I pray that our Lord have mercy on your soul, and may we meet again someday, in Heaven.

    I will never stop praying for that. Amen.

  8. Darwin awards. It was told to everyone that it was dangerous outside, yet they wanted to go against nature. Look what happened!

  9. Sara–What a beautiful tribute to your friend Jessie. Your words brought tears to my eyes, as did the quote from the Qu’ran.
    With love,
    Sharon Spellman

  10. we knew Jessie (and Max) from the dog park. She was one of those people that is just so genuine and kind. From the first time we met her she just exuded a personality of warmth and care. I am shocked at this and am so sorry for this terrible tragedy.

    Her family and Jacobs family is in our prayers. I am so sorry.

  11. While their friends and families have my condolences, I still want to know what they were thinking going out in the worst natural disaster to hit New York City ever. Their deaths are tragic, but anyone calling this unfathomable or shocking or surprising is kidding themselves. Bloomberg and co were on the news constantly for the previous two days telling people not to go outside until the storm was over and the streets were cleared.

    Moreover, they were potentially putting the lives of first-responders and other hurricane victims in danger. If they had made a call for help, resources would have had to be diverted from people who needed help through no fault of their own.

    So again, my condolences to friends and family, but what they did was incredibly reckless, thoughtless, and with complete disregard of how their actions might affect those close to them. They didn’t die “senselessly”, they chose to cause grief and heartbreak to those closest to them.

  12. Nice to see that DPC still has a fine policy of deleting comments that don’t stick to popular opinion, yet don’t violate their policies in the least. At that point, why even bother having a commenting policy? Actually, at that point, why even bother allowing comments?

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