Chabad co-director and mother of 12 dies after 3 months on life support

Henya Federman had been on a boating trip with her family in the US Virgin Islands


A Chabad emissary who was on life support for nearly three months after failing to save her infant daughter from drowning during a family boating trip, has died.

Henya Federman, 40, co-director of Chabad of St Thomas, US Virgin Islands, and mother of 12, jumped into the water of Oasis Cove Marina on November 29 after her four-month-old daughter Shterna Sarah fell in.

Her husband, Rabbi Asher Federman, reportedly jumped in after her. Shortly afterward, the daughter’s body was discovered in the water. It is not clear if anyone else was in the boat with them.

According to a statement by the Brooklyn-based, Mrs Federman was quickly pulled out of the water, resuscitated until her heartbeat was restored, and taken to the island’s Schneider Regional Medical Center, before being flown to the US mainland for emergency care.

There, Mrs Federman “lay hovering between life and death” for up to three months at Specialty Hospital of Central Jersey in Lakewood, before finally succumbing to her condition on Wednesday night. said: “Henya passed away at the age of 40 on Wednesday, Feb 8, after battling for her life for more than two months in the aftermath of a St. Thomas water accident that claimed the life of her 4-month-old daughter, Shterna,

“Pulled out of the water and resuscitated after attempting to save her baby, Federman was flown to the mainland of the United States for emergency care. During the time that she lay hovering between life and death, countless people around the world increased in prayers, good deeds, and Torah study in her merit.”

According to her brother, Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, Mrs Federman was deeply dedicated to her St. Thomas community.

In a statement addressed to St. Thomas’s Chabad congregation, Rabbi Shmotkin said: “We know that you ached and prayed and beseeched God with everything you have – and more – right along with us during these trying couple o fmonths, and each of you in your own way did all kinds of things to continue Henya’s beautiful life and ways,

“All these and more will live on inside you and your families and inside all the concentric spheres of your influence.”

Mrs Federman’s near-drowning and the death of her daughter made international news in early December.

An official investigation surrounding the incident is ongoing, with the Virgin Islands Police Department reviewing witness statements and any surveillance footage to determine how the mother and child ended up in the water.

The funeral for Mrs Federman, who is survived by her husband and 12 children aged between one and 17, is on Thursday.

St. Thomas Synagogue on St. Thomas island was built in 1833, and is the second oldest continually used synagogue in the United States, with the island’s Jewish congregation dating back to at least 1796.

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