Letter From HaRav Sender Haber, Rov In Norfolk Virginia, Regarding Difficult Week


To our distinguished community,

As friends, admirers, and students of Rabbi Bauman and his family, we have all experienced a very difficult week.

My goal with these words is to clarify some facts and perhaps answer some questions.

As you know, Rabbi Bauman was caught in a riptide in the Sandbridge area of Virginia Beach in the early afternoon on Tuesday. The force of the water was so strong that nobody present was able to save him. The rescue crews were nearby and on the scene immediately.

It is true that Rabbi Bauman entered the water to rescue children in distress. Those children were rescued by a heroic bystander and are safe. The nature of the riptide was such that the bystander either did not see or could not reach Rabbi Bauman. We do not know the identity of the bystander.

The Coast Guard immediately set up a command center to coordinate local, state, and federal assets including military. Our area is home to the world’s largest Naval Base and some of the best trained and equipped Search and rescue teams in the world. I was personally on the scene with the command center all afternoon and they went above and beyond the call of duty. My wife, Rebbetzin Chamie, was with his wife, Tzivia who was obviously in distress.

We were immediately in touch with countless Chesed organizations. Achiezer was on the scene quickly and worked with the Coast Guard command to involve the various Hatzalah, Chaveirim, Misaskim and other organizations with experience in water search and rescue. It was and remains a true Kiddush HaShem.

Chai Lifeline immediately sent a crisis expert to speak with the family, the children who were present, their parents, and the community at large. They have been working in concert with myself, the Jewish Family Services, and several highly qualified local professionals.

At this point the search continues. As ma’aminim (believers) we remain hopeful for a miracle, a neis. The Coast Guard Command Center stretched their typical time for Search and Rescue Operations beyond what is typical and well into yesterday morning. They have, at this point, begun the process of phasing out several of their assets and many of those assets are being replaced by skilled and trained volunteers and volunteer organizations.

We have received encouragement and blessings for strength from the Gedolei Haposkim and some of the holiest people in our generation. It is our prayer that Rabbi Bauman will be found over the next few days at which point we will proceed as appropriate. Despite reports to the contrary, the family has not begun to sit Shiva. We are still searching for Rabbi Bauman and davening that he will be found. It goes without saying that our Torah and Jewish Law have contingencies for every eventuality.

How can you help?

You can daven. The hundreds of thousands of tefillos (prayers) from all of Klal Yisrael have given our community, the family, and our children unnatural strength during this difficult time.

You can volunteer. The contact person for volunteer efforts is Mr. Blau at 347-986-9482. Volunteering includes going out in boats, walking along the shoreline and supporting others as they search. After careful consideration and discussion we have determined that we will not have Jewish volunteers searching over Shabbos.

You can take care of yourselves, your children and each other. We are all hurting and we all need to be talking to someone to help us process this trauma. It can be a friend or a professional, but please recognize this need.

This is not a fundraising letter, but many people have asked where they can send funds. A fund has been set up and is currently managed and endorsed by myself and Rabbi Teichman, Shlita of Monsey. All monies in the fund will go directly to the needs of the family during this difficult time.

You can avoid rumors. Misinformation about possible rescues, decisions, and storylines are not helpful and can cause great pain. Even true information and decisions need to be communicated in a responsible fashion. We are dealing with a family and community in distress.

You can continue to be who you are. Klal Yisroel – the Jewish nation – is amazing and these past few days have brought it out. We are all one, and we all feel each others pain. We act on that pain and we never forget to turn our minds and hearts to Hakadosh Baruch Hu.

May these remarkable aspects of our community and Klal Yisroel be a zechus for Rabbi Bauman and for all of us until the day that HaShem wipes away all of our tears.

On behalf of the family and the community, thank you.

Rabbi Sender Haber
B’nai Israel Congregation
Norfolk, VA

[A Charidy campaign has been set up for the family.]

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)


  1. Thank you Rabbi Haber for you letter. Thank you for your thoughtfulness your honesty your courage and respect. May Hashem send you many Brochos in return.

    We are Am Yisroel. We are a nation of Maaminim Bnei Maaminim. We don’t lose hope. Never have never will. Even if things look naturally impossible. There is a family a community in stress. We as Am Echod feel and share the pain and anguish at these hard time. But never ever give up. There have been numerous times when things turned out for the good despite nature telling us otherwise. We need and must be strong. Unite and hold on till the end. Not easy but As a strong nation we must. With conviction Amuna and Bitochon as we’ve seen in the past.

    As Shabbos comes in we firmly believe that Shabbos is a conduit of good news of miracles. Shabbos stands higher then the natural world and does wonders. Shabbos Hi Melizok Shabbos brings Refuah and Yeshuah. May he embrace this Shabbos with extra conviction and strength may Hashem show us the great miracle that Shabbos can bring.

    May we hear good news very soon. May the family the community be strong “Just one Shabbos and the world will see”. Till the Ultimate Miracle till the Ultimate Shabbos the Yom Shekulo Shabbos very soon Bekorov.

  2. We do not know the identity of the bystander and for this, all blame goes solely on the pedantic police. This bystander:- A Fisherman fishing with questionable rules, so as soon as the police showed up, he made a straight dash to get away, despite the fact he had the potential to save Rav Bauman.

  3. Can someone explain how it would be humanly possible to survive almost 5 days without fresh water, sleep, food, or through direct heat exhaustion? Not only is it becoming silly, but it’s appearing insulting to suggest that miraculously the rabbi is still alive. There were eidim (witnesses) who saw the rabbi get pulled out to see and not run away on land, so I understand we are davening to find a body; but to suggest anything else is insulting.

  4. As rav haber said the most important thing to do now it’s to daven.
    I think we should split up Sefer tehillim as a zechus for reuvain tzvi Ben Esther baila.
    Please post which yom you want to commit to bli neder.
    May Hashem hear our tifellos and may they be answered right away.