Orthodox Jews in Greater Cleveland were praying psalms after Rabbi Reuven Bauman was missing at sea July 9 after apparently trying to rescue a camper who was struggling in turbulent waters off the coast of Virginia Beach, Va.
Bauman’s brother, Rabbi Mordechai Bauman, lives in University Heights and flew to Virginia, accompanied by Rabbi Dovid Asher Schnurman, a principal of Yeshiva Derech Hatorah in Cleveland Heights. Mordechai Bauman is a teacher at the school.
At the Beachwood Kollel in University Heights, congregants read psalms after daily prayers on July 9 for Reuven Bauman.
The U.S. Coast Guard suspended the recovery operation about at 11:25 a.m. on July 10, 23 hours after Reuven Bauman was reported missing. However, family and Jewish volunteer rescue teams were combing the shore and continuing the search. Rabbi Aharon Lipman, who grew up in Cleveland Heights and University Heights and went to the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland in Cleveland Heights and graduated from Telse Yeshiva in Wickliffe, is a co-head camp counselor. He taught with Reuven Bauman at Toras Chaim, an Orthodox day school in Norfolk.
Virginia Beach EMS was dispatched to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge between noon and 1 p.m. July 9, an area where swimming and surfing are expressly prohibited.
“Our condolences certainly go out to the family and friends,” said Bruce Nedelka, division chief and public information officer for the city of Virginia Beach Department of Emergency Services. “It’s a sad, sad, tragic situation.”
Red flags were posted at nearby public beaches on the Atlantic Coast, where waters were turbulent. There were riptides and currents flowing both north and south in different areas, Nedelka said.
Nedelka said the camper was taken to a local hospital for observation in stable condition, and that a frantic rescue search took place for Bauman. That rescue operation took place for about an hour and a half and then switched to a recovery operation, with the U.S. Coast Guard leading it.
City-hired emergency medical services-trained lifeguards were the first responders to the scene, arriving from Sandbridge about 2 miles away on jet skis, on an all-terrain vehicle and a four-wheel drive pickup truck. Virginia Beach fire and police also sent rescue boats to the scene.
An MH 60 Jay Hawk helicopter was sent to the scene from Elizabeth City, N.C., along with a Coast Guard cutter. In addition, a 45-foot Coast Guard Response Boat from Little Creek, Va., was sent to the area.
Nedelka estimated there were about two dozen personnel at the height of the operation.
Rabbi Pinchas Landis of University Heights, whose son, Moshe, 14, attends Yeshiva Aish Kodesh in Norfolk, said his son was shaken by the incident and knew Reuven Bauman through B’nai Israel Congregation.
Reuven Bauman taught at Toras Chaim, a day school in Norfolk, and attended B’nai Israel, where Moshe Landis met him.
Pinchas Landis said the Norfolk Orthodox community is tightknit and vibrant, with many young adults moving to the area.
He said he has been praying with Orthodox Jews around the world through a whatsapp Tehillim application.
“I know in the synagogues they’re saying extra tehillim (psalms),” Landis said. “And I know I’ve gotten numerous emails from my relations around the world that are encouraging extra Tehillim.”