Two New York rabbis drown in strong Miami rip current

The deceased, leaders in the Hasidic Satmar community, reportedly sought secluded shore to avoid encountering scantily clad women

Rabbi Chaim Parnes, left, and Rabbi Issac Rosenberg, who drowned in Miami beach on May 17, 2016 (Screen shot: CBS New York)
Rabbi Chaim Parnes, left, and Rabbi Issac Rosenberg, who drowned in Miami beach on May 17, 2016 (Screen shot: CBS New York)

Two elderly rabbis drowned at a South Florida beach on Tuesday after being caught up in a powerful rip current, despite the efforts of an off-duty cop who rushed to the scene to save them.

Rabbis Issac Rosenberg, 67, and Chaim Parnes, 66, along with two other men, chose an isolated stretch of Haulover Beach, located within Miami, where they could bathe in the ocean while avoiding the sight of scantily dressed women, a friend of the deceased men told the Miami Herald.

“The preliminary information reveals that four males went to the beach. Three males entered the water to swim. Those three males all began to struggle,” said Miami-Dade Police Spokesman John Barrow.

According to the report, Yona Lunger, described as a well-known activist in Miami-Dade’s Orthodox Jewish community, said one of the men struggling in the water managed to swim to shore and called the police for help.

Officer George Waisman, an off-duty cop who was on his way back from court, heard the distress call and raced to the scene.

He, along with a lifeguard who had also heard the call, sped toward the drowning men in a jet ski and brought them back to shore. The two were then brought to the Aventura Hospital where they were pronounced dead. A third man was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, and is in stable condition.

The two rabbis were visiting South Florida on vacation from New York.

Rosenberg was president of Congregation Yetev Lev D’Satmar, a Hasidic Jewish congregation in Brooklyn. He was the owner of Certified Lumber in New York City’s Williamsburg neighborhood as well as several New York properties.

New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who apparently knew Rosenberg, tweeted that he was “broken-hearted” by the passing of “his good friend.”

Parnes, who was also reportedly involved in the Satmar Jewish community, was a diamond dealer from Kiryas Joel, an upstate New York town whose residents are Yiddish-speaking Hasidic Jews.

Parnes had made the news in South Florida last Thanksgiving, when he was pistol-whipped during an armed robbery by three men while on a business trip in Miami. The robbers got away with $35,000 worth of diamonds, ABC’s Local 10 News reported.

Parnes told the local news station after the Thanksgiving incident, “If (you) take away life, (it) doesn’t come back. So I’m thankful for God. Today’s Thanksgiving. I’m giving up big time for God.”

Eric Adams, the borough president of Brooklyn, tweeted, “Brooklyn’s hearts go out to the Satmar community following the tragic drownings of Rebbes Chaim Parnes and Yitzchok Rosenberg in Miami.”

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