Since the tragic deaths of Ditmas Park’s Jessie Streich-Kest and Jacob Vogelman on Monday night, we’ve read many moving tributes honoring the memory of the young friends by people who knew and loved them.
New York City Council Member Brad Lander, who knew them both through their parents, remembered Jessie and Jacob as ‘young people of extraordinary values and bright promise’, and expressed their respective passions and personalities in a tribute letter on his website last night.
I knew Jessie, a bright young teacher and activist. I worked with her on Eric Schneiderman’s campaign for attorney general, and she was energetic and tireless and a lot of fun. And she followed up to lobby our office (very persistently) on the cause of animal rights, something she felt very passionately about. She had recently started working as a special education teacher at Bushwick Social Justice High School, and just had her very first parent-teacher conferences last week.
Jake Vogelman, as this heart-breaking article puts it, “was a kind of unofficial first responder in things as small as fixing a neighbor’s television or as large as accompanying a friend into Hurricane Sandy to check on her cancer-stricken father.” Jake had graduated cum laude from University of Buffalo in theater design (not letting his dyslexia stop him), and was working toward his Master’s Degree at Brooklyn College.
In leiu of flowers, Jacob’s parents have asked for donations to Learning Ally: Making Reading Accessible for All, an organization that provided free books to Jacob as a child to assist him with his dyslexia.
Jessie’s family want to honor her love of animals by asking for donations to the Sean Casey Animal Rescue Center in Kensington.