Mother who tried to save baby in November drowning dies

NOW: Mother who tried to save baby in November drowning dies


MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee's Jewish community is mourning the death of a beloved mother.

Henya Federman died Wednesday, after nearly drowning in St. Thomas, trying to save her baby.

On Nov. 29, Henya Federman slipped, and her four-month-old baby fell into the ocean.

Family told us Federman jumped in to save her baby, Shterna, but was unsuccessful.

Shterna died, and Federman was airlifted to Miami, where she was put on life support.

Family tells CBS 58 Federman was transferred to New Jersey shortly after, where she remained on life support for three months, until she died on Wednesday.

Federman's family owns Jewish centers across the state of Wisconsin.

"It's a tragedy that really hit home strongly, because of the impact she's had in her community and the Milwaukee community," said family friend, Levi Stein.

Federman's father was the first Chabad rabbi to move to Milwaukee, 53 years ago. Since then, the family has opened Chabad institutions across the state.

Years ago, Federman and her husband moved to St. Thomas, where they opened a Jewish Chabad center, while raising their thirteen children.

"To be able to run a community along with her husband, but also be a mother, it's a full-time job for one or two kids. Imagine 13 kids. So, an incredible person," Stein said.

Federman's funeral was held Thursday in New York, with thousands of attendees from Chabad organizations across the United States and U.S. Virgin Islands.

"It's unfortunate, but tragedy really brings out the amazing connections she's had with so many people," Stein said.

When Federman was hospitalized, her family asked people to pledge a mitzvah - or a good deed - in her name.

Since November, more than 54,000 mitzvahs have been dedicated to her through an online platform.

"The impact she had over the last three months is more than people can do in a lifetime," Stein said. "What a way to say goodbye."

An online fundraiser for Federman's husband and children has raised more than $1.3 million.

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