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Jewish community remains hopeful after schoolteacher disappears

NORFOLK, Va.. - The Jewish community is praying for the safe return of their own Rabbi Reuven Bauman.

“No one has given up hope. Everyone is still praying, and that’s one of the reasons why the effort is still going on,” said Rabbi Gavriel Rudin.

Rabbi Reuven Bauman (Photo from the school website for Toras Chaim)

The Coast Guard called off the search for the 35-year-old schoolteacher Wednesday morning, but helicopters and boats from Jewish communities in New York, New Jersey and Maryland decided to come down to Virginia Beach to look for Rabbi Bauman.

“We know the chances are slim, but we have not given up and Jews throughout the world are hoping and praying for his safe return,” he adds.

Rabbi Bauman was last seen on Tuesday afternoon when he went into the water to save one of his students who was struggling in the water. The 13-year-old made it out alive, but Bauman did not.

Rabbi Gavriel Rudin says in the Jewish community, finding his body is crucial.

“We give incredible importance to the body. The body, first of all, houses the soul. It’s the vessel which holds the soul inside of it.”

And it must be found in order to give Rabbi Bauman a proper burial.

“I’m sure you know the family is really struggling now, and we want to bring them that closure and show Rabbi Bauman the proper respects if that’s what it comes to.”

B’Nai Israel Congregation is where Rudin says Rabbi Bauman attended. He was not just a member, but also a mentor to the young boys.

“He was an amazing teacher. All his students loved him. His students felt very close to him,” said Rudin.

Rabbi Rudin says the boys who were on the class trip with their teacher before he disappeared are hanging in there.

“I spent the whole day with the boys today. Some of them are very sad. We are trying to make sure they are enjoying camp and keeping their spirits up,” said Rabbi Rudin.

All with hopes that they get to see their favorite teacher again.

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