Klal Yisrael joins together in support of family of Rabbi Reuven Bauman, z”l.
Rabbi Reuven Bauman, z”l, dedicated his life to helping others, and tragically gave his life attempting to save the lives of others. The heartbreaking petirah of this young, dynamic and dedicated rebbe shook the close-knit community of Norfolk, Virginia, and the entire world. For days, klal Yisrael joined together in tefillah as hundreds of Yidden from around the country galvanized to search for Rabbi Bauman after he was swept away by a strong wave. Sadly, Rabbi Bauman did not make it back to shore and his body was recovered six days after a search began by devoted volunteers created a worldwide Kiddush Hashem.
Over those six days, klal Yisrael was united as tens of thousands davened on his behalf, and hundreds of people from organizations and communities around the country gave many hours of their time and untold efforts to take part in the search efforts to locate his body.
For an entire week, volunteer organizations like Achiezer, Misaskim, Chai Lifeline, Chaverim and Hatzalah were featured on the news—making an incredible impression on everyone involved.
Coast Guard members were especially inspired, and were amazed at how the community would not give up the search as long as any glimmer of hope remained.
It was even related that when the Coast Guard diver brought Reuven’s body out of the water, he proudly declared, “I am a Jew.”
Baruch Hashem, the body was miraculously found and R’ Reuven was given proper kavod acharon.
Captain Kevin Carroll, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Commander, put it simply: “It’s not lost on any of us that this man lost his life while saving another.”
Yisroel Schwartz, a brother-in-law, described Rabbi Bauman as, “Someone who lived his life until the last minute to give to others. He lived his life as a Kiddush Hashem in a quiet, unassuming way, and Hashem gave him the chance to make the greatest public Kiddush Hashem in recent times.”
He said at the levaya, “It’s as if Hashem was saying to Reuven: You’ve done all this kindness for others in your quiet, unassuming way. Now I will give you a chance to save a life and make a tremendous public Kiddush Hashem. The name Reuven Bauman will be known around the world as a man of true Kiddush Hashem. Here you go, Reuven. Take this gift. You deserve it.”
R’ Reuven came from a family of marbitzei Torah and refined Yidden. Schwartz said, “Anyone who knows the Bauman family knows that they are true ovdei Hashem who do what needs to be done quietly.”
Even as a young boy, R’ Reuven’s kindness and sterling middos tovos were evident. His father related that the cook at the Scranton Yeshiva, where R’ Reuven learned as a bachur, told him that in the decades he has prepared food for students, Reuven was the only one to thank him three times every day.
Rabbi Bauman and his family moved to Norfolk four years ago to assume the position in Toras Chaim. Prior to that he had learned for numerous years in the Savannah kollel.
Schwartz said in his hesped, “He was dedicated to his wife and children above anything else. Everyone in Savannah loved him to pieces. They loved him for his kindness, the non-judgmental way he treated everyone, and his ability to make you feel good about yourself. In his quiet way, he enhanced the lives of so many in the community.
“Even though he was so beloved in the community, when it was determined that it would be better for his children’s education, he moved with his wife to a new place where he didn’t know anybody.”
Rabbi Bauman quickly became an integral part of this warm community, and his warmth and love were a source of encouragement and assistance to all.
“In the three short years he lived in Norfolk, he related to people in an unbelievable way and became so beloved there. He made an imprint on them through his ability to listen, to be patient, to hear what other people say, and to care for them all,” said Schwartz.
In addition to deeply influencing so many of his seventh and eighth grade students, Rabbi Bauman also spent part of his time during the week learning with local working men, upon whom he also had a tremendous impact. Furthermore, he gave a Shabbos afternoon class in shul for the local boys in second through fourth grade, which was highly anticipated by them all, and often delivered shiurim on Shabbos for the entire community.
Last year, R’ Reuven published a children’s book called “Yanky’s Amazing Discovery” about a boy who overcomes his struggles through being inspired by stories about Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt”l. The boy relates to these stories of Rav Yaakov, whose amazing character traits could be emulated by a child on any level.
Rabbi Mark Bauman, Reuven’s father, was quoted as saying, “Reuven felt it was important to portray our Sages in a way that is relevant and accessible, to encourage young people to aspire to their greatness.”
R’ Reuven lived his life as a Kiddush Hashem and tragically passed away in a remarkable Kiddush Hashem. He made the ultimate sacrifice, giving his life in order to save the lives of his talmidim.
Heartbreakingly, Rabbi Bauman’s wife and five young children are now left widowed and orphaned from the doting father who took responsibility for his family and showered his children with love, and the selfless ben Torah who served as the ultimate role model for his children to aspire toward.
As Schwartz stated, “The outpouring from around the world was such a huge Kiddush Hashem. You still can be part of the tremendous Kiddush Hashem through supporting the family in this trying time and helping us reach the goal.”