'Heroic' Virginia rabbi missing after diving into ocean to save a student

A rabbi and day camp counselor in Norfolk, Va., went missing after jumping into the ocean to save a student who struggled to make it back to shore amid choppy waters, according to reports.

The Coast Guard searched for 35-year-old Rabbi Reuven Bauman, a teacher at Yeshiva Toras Chaim in Portsmouth, who was last seen around noon Tuesday when he dove in the water to rescue a 13-year-old camper from choppy waters with rip currents, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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“He acted heroically,” Coast Guard Lt. Steve Arguelles said about Bauman rescuing the child, who was reported safe at False Cape State Park. About 20 people attended a field trip at the state park. Swimming was prohibited in the area they visited.

The Coast Guard, assisted by Virginia Beach fire and police departments and the National Park Service, suspended the search Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday, when Rabbi Reuven Bauman jumped into choppy waters to save a student, lifeguards had raised red flags prohibiting swimming due to dangerous conditions.

On Tuesday, when Rabbi Reuven Bauman jumped into choppy waters to save a student, lifeguards had raised red flags prohibiting swimming due to dangerous conditions. (City of Virginia Beach)

“It’s always a hard decision, and it’s not one we make lightly,” Arguelles told the Virginian-Pilot newspaper. In calling off the search, the Coast Guard considered the rough waters, the size of the area searched and the “likelihood of survivability."

The Jewish community is still searching for Bauman's body, according to WTKR.

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"This is a terrible loss," Joel Rubin, representing the Norfolk Jewish community, told the local CBS affiliate. "Rabbi Bauman was the most respected of rabbis and teachers in this community. He was a father, a scholar and an outgoing, smart man."

Bauman is reportedly a father of five, and he taught 7th and 8th-grade secular studies and 3rd-grade Judaic studies at the school.

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