On Tuesday, July 9, Rabbi Reuven Bauman – a dynamic Torah teacher in Norfolk, Virginia – died after saving his student from a rip tide in the Atlantic Ocean. Rabbi Bauman himself got caught in the rip tide and went missing. His body was found six days later following a massive recovery effort.
Reuven Bauman was born in 1983 and grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey. He attended Yeshiva of North Jersey for elementary school and Yeshiva Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch for high school. Reuven then learned for several years in Yeshiva Bais Moshe in Scranton, PA, and then in Rabbi Eichenstein’s yeshiva in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Mark Bauman, Reuven’s father, told The Jewish Press, “As a boy, my son was fun-loving, yet respectful – both in school and at home. He befriended all the other kids in school and transcended cliques. Reuven got along well with his siblings, who looked up to him. Starting in high-school, he wrote and disseminated a weekly dvar Torah on the parshah.”
A cook at the Scranton yeshiva sadly noted after Reuven’s passing that in the several decades he prepared food for students, Reuven was the only one to thank him three times a day, after each meal.
Following his 2006 marriage to Tzivia Stern, Reuven learned for four years in the Be’er Yitzchok of Elizabeth Kollel and six years in the Savannah, GA, Community Kollel before becoming a rebbe at Yeshiva Toras Chaim in Norfolk, VA in 2016.
Rabbi Mark Bauman said, “Already in Savannah and even more so in Norfolk, my son was involved with anybody and everybody in the community. Regardless of age, level of observance, and background – people were attracted to him by his kindness, chein, and charisma.”
Rabbi Bauman also noted that even though his son worked and lived “in small out-of-town Jewish communities, [he] and his family maintained the same high level of Yiddishkeit.”
At Yeshiva Toras Chaim in Norfolk, Rabbi Reuven Bauman taught limudei kodesh all day from 8 a.m-4 p.m. Last year, he taught 8th, 7th, and 3rd grades. Rabbi Sender Haber of B’nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk told The Jewish Press, “Rabbi Bauman was a meticulous rebbe. He was meticulous in his preparation, in his teaching style, and in reaching every student in the class.”
Rabbi Boruch Danziger, rosh kollel of The Norfolk Kollel, recalled to The Jewish Press that “Rabbi Reuven Bauman was a remarkable and unique person – whether in terms of his tefillah to Hashem, focus in life, patience with people, or attentiveness and sensitivity to others.” He added, “All who came in contact with him were taken by the beauty of his personality, chein, menschlichkeit, smile, dignity, humility, and sweetness.”
Rabbi Bauman was extraordinarily dedicated to his students. He made sure every student in his class understood the material being taught, practically tailoring his teaching to each talmid. Rabbi Bauman was also in tune with the needs of talmidim outside the classroom, helping them emotionally, helping them improve their middos, and building them up as people. There was no generation gap. He understood boys decades younger than him, and they felt understood by him, looking forward to entering his class.
Rabbi Bauman cared about helping all students at Toras Chaim grow. He also was there for his fellow teachers, especially helping guide new ones.
Rabbi Bauman was a devoted father to his own children. He also loved learning Torah with daily chavrusos before Shacharis and in the late evening, while also making time to learn on his own.
In 2018, Rabbi Bauman published a children’s book, Yanky’s Amazing Discovery (Menucha Publishers), about a boy experiencing usual childhood struggles becoming inspred after discovering a manuscript with stories about the famed Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, who overcame his own childhood struggles and became one of the greatest gedolim of the last generation.
The book sold out and is now on its second printing. Rabbi Bauman also wrote many children’s poems about the chagim, which is being prepared for posthumous publication.
Rabbi Reuven Bauman’s funeral was held on Monday morning, July 15, at B’nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk, VA. The burial took place that same afternoon at the K’hal Adas Jeshurun section of King Solomon Cemetery in Clifton, NJ.
Rabbi Reuven Bauman is survived by his wife, Tzivia Bauman; children Shira, Yaakov, Zevi, Yehuda and Tziri (all under age 12); siblings Miriam Leah Schwartz, Mordechai Bauman, Moshe Bauman, Binyomin Bauman, Yosef Bauman, Shoshana Greenbaum, Shimon Bauman, Sorah Bauman, Avigayil Bauman, Yocheved Bauman and Nechama Bauman; parents Rabbi Mark and Esther Bauman; and two grandmothers.