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. His body was recovered six days later.
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 effort 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 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, 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 levayah, “It 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. Mr. 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 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.
Mr. Schwartz said in his hesped that the move from Savannah portrayed how Rabbi Bauman cared so much about his children and their needs.
“He was dedicated to his wife and children above anything else,” he said. “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 affected 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,” says Mr. Schwartz.
In addition to deeply influencing so many of his seventh- and eighth-grade students, Rabbi Bauman spent part of his time during the week learning with local working men. Furthermore, he gave a Shabbos-afternoon class in shul for the local boys in second through fourth grades, 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.”
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 towards.
A fund was set up by askanim and rabbanim to help secure the financial future of Rabbi Bauman’s wife and children and provide them menuchas ha’nefesh as they work to rebuild their lives without their beloved father. All members of Klal Yisrael — from far and near — were urged to participate in this worthy effort in a substantial manner.
Let’s all join together and do our part to ensure the legacy of Rabbi Reuven Bauman, z’l, will remain one of achdus. Let’s keep that extraordinary unity alive and show his family that Klal Yisrael unites, not only in tragedy, but also in perpetuating simcha and chesed the way Rabbi Reuven Bauman, z’l, would surely have wanted.
Please share this campaign with your family and friends, and let it reverberate throughout the Jewish nation, and be a vehicle through which we collectively bring the geulah sheleimah b’meheirah!
As Mr. Schwartz states, “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.”
Donations to the fund can be made at Rayze.it/Bauman/ or called in to the 24/7 hotline at 732-392-7700. Checks can be made out to Keren Zichron Reuven and mailed to YBM Alumni Association, c/o Elly Hoberman, 1113 E. 12th St., Brooklyn, NY, 11230. (Reprinted from The Shopper)