‘Heroic’ rabbi swept out to sea saving student; Coast Guard calls off search, Jewish community continues effort

Although the search for Rabbi Reuven Bauman, missing in Virginia Beach since Tuesday, was called off by US Coast Guard, the Jewish community continues the effort.

By World Israel News Staff

On Tuesday, Rabbi Reuven Bauman, 35, was swept out to sea at False Cape State Park in Virginia Beach. He jumped into the choppy water to help his struggling 13-year-old student caught in a rip current.

Bauman was supervising 20 campers from a local day camp. He is credited with immediately entering the the water to save his camper, who made it out alive. However, it seems the rabbi was himself caught in the current.

“He acted heroically,” U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Steve Arguelles said about Bauman.

Virginia Beach fire and police departments assisted the Coast Guard in the search.

An area of about 347 square nautical miles (about 459 square miles) was searched using an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from the Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and a 45-foot boat from Coast Guard Station Little Creek, as per reports on the rescue mission.

As of Wednesday late morning, the Coast Guard called off its search for Bauman’s body. “It’s always a hard decision, and it’s not one we make lightly,” Arguelles told the Virginian-Pilot newspaper.

The Jewish community continues the effort.

Emergency personnel using jet skis, boats and eight aircraft from various Jewish organizations in New York, New Jersey and Maryland have joined the search, reported The Yeshiva World News. 

These include volunteers from Achiezer, Hatzolah air, Misaskim, and Shomrim, who are working in boats. Chaveirim deployed a specialized team with sonar for underwater searches.  COMMSAR-Community Search and Rescue is also contributing.

“No one has given up hope. Everyone is still praying, and that’s one of the reasons why the effort is still going on,” said Rabbi Gavriel Rudin, Director of Community Development and Programming at B’nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk, the synagogue which Bauman attended.

“We know the chances are slim, but we have not given up and Jews throughout the world are hoping and praying for his safe return.”

Rudin explained that finding Bauman’s body is crucial to having a proper burial and giving his family closure.

“[Jews] give incredible importance to the body,” he said, according to WTKR Norfolk, Virginia news.

“The body, first of all, houses the soul. It’s the vessel which holds the soul inside of it. I’m sure you know the family is really struggling now, and we want to bring them that closure and show Rabbi Bauman the proper respects if that’s what it comes to.”

Bauman was a teacher at Yeshiva Toras Chaim in Norfolk Virginia. He has a wife and six children.

“He was an amazing teacher. All his students loved him. His students felt very close to him,” added Rudin.