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September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Aharon Sofer’

Funeral Begins from Lakewood Yeshiva Student Aaron Sofer

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Thousands of mourners turned out Friday morning for the funeral of Lakewood, New Jersey yeshiva student Aaron Sofer whose body was found Thursday after seven days of searching since he was reported missing last Friday evening.

His parents said they were “overwhelmed” by the sad news, which also brought a certain relief from the week-long anxiety that was deepened by fears that Sofer, 23, had been kidnapped by terrorists.

The funeral began with eulogies in the Ezrat Torah neighborhood of Jerusalem, and Sofer is to be buried later in the day in Beit Shemesh.

His disappearance, after he and a hiking friend had separated in the hills of Jerusalem, brought out passionate pleas from New Jersey community and political leaders for the IDF and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) to conduct massive search for Sofer.

Search and rescue workers found his partially decomposed body Thursday afternoon. Sofer did not have a cell phone, and if he was alive after he fell, the inability to communicate by phone may have left him doomed to death by dehydration.

“Ever since Aaron went missing, communities throughout the United States, Israel, and beyond gathered in worship on behalf of Aaron,” said New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez.

“During this period of mourning, I hope the Sofer family can be comforted with the knowledge that countless people, friends and strangers alike, prayed for Aaron’s well-being, and those acts of devotion will only continue,” he added. “It has become clear to me that everyone who knew Aaron saw tremendous promise in this young man who was committed to his family, his Jewish faith and his community of Lakewood.”

Update: Lakewood Confirms Sofer’s Body Was Found in Jerusalem Hills

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Lakewood, New Jersey officials confirmed on Thursday that the body of missing yeshiva student Aaron Sofer was found in the Jerusalem Hills, apparently the victim of an accidental fall while hiking.

“During the six days there was hope all along until his body was actually found,” said township committeeman Meir Lichtenstein, a friend of the family, according to NJ.com. “Obviously, there was grave concern because it was so long but I think that there was a lot of hope.”

“The silver lining in the cloud is that Aharon’s disappearance and eventually death really united the community, brought a lot of good out in people. And there’s a lot of solace in that,” Lichtenstein added.

Sofer, 23 and who was a student at the Lakewood yeshiva,, will be buried in Israel, the New Jersey website reported.

His body was found around 4 p.m. (9 a.m. EDT) by a member of the Ichud Hatzolah emergency organization, Yisroel Erlich.

The searcher said he came upon “a man’s body among the shrubbery that seemed to match the missing student’s description” after a week of frantic searching by thousands of volunteers.

Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld, who has not confirmed the identity as of now, said, “It’s not clear how the person died,” Rosenfeld said, in part due to the condition of the body. Experts from the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute were summoned to the scene to examine the body on site in a closed-off area.

Sofer went missing last Friday while hiking in the forest with a friend, after the two took diverging paths heading down a steep incline. Police were notified when the student did not reappear late in the day for preparations just prior to the Sabbath. Sofer learns in a hareidi yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Sofer’s parents and uncle immediately boarded a flight for Israel on Saturday night, and by mid-week had offered a sizeable reward for his return in a video plea for the public’s help, posted on the internet.

In Sofer’s Orthodox Jewish community of Lakewood, prayer vigils were held daily. Local Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) and both US Senators had urged the State Department to shake loose all resources available to help in the search. Both American and Israeli officials said that “no stone was being left unturned.”

Missing Yeshiva Student’s Parents Plead for Public’s Help in Search

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

“I’m having a hard time now, but I will try to speak,” Chulda Sofer, Aharon’s mother, began in a trembling voice, in a heartbreaking video plea to the public for help in finding her son.

Aharon Sofer, 23, went missing on Friday, Aug. 22, while hiking with a friend in the Jerusalem Forest. A student who is learning in Jerusalem at Reb Tzvi Kaplan’s Yeshiva, he is one of 10 children, the son of a rabbi and a mother who works in a school office. He disappeared after taking a diverging path while heading down a steep incline in the forest while hiking with his friend last Friday. When he didn’t re-appear by 6 pm in time to prepare for Sabbath, Sofer’s friend knew something was wrong.

Few are willing to voice the fear that Sofer was kidnapped by Arab terrorists. Fewer dare to even think the unthinkable: as with three Israeli teens who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists on June 12, the awful silence that has followed this yeshiva student’s disappearance may not mean good news. There have been terrorist murders in the Jerusalem Forest before. An Arab teen was kidnapped and killed there in a revenge attack for the Hamas murders of the three Israeli teens. A Christian woman, Kristine Luken, was attacked with her friend by a Palestinian Arab terrorist in 2010 in the same forest. Her friend managed to escape, but Luken was murdered.

Seen in the video clutching a poster bearing a photo of her son with the word MISSING printed in heavy black letters in Hebrew and English, Chulda Sofer is clearly beside herself. She tearfully beseeches, “Please, please, please, I beg of you, beg you, please, if anyone sees, anything about Aharon, please call the police immediately.”

The video at that point is apparently spliced, probably for brevity; Rabbi Moshe Sofer, the young man’s father, is then seen reading his own statement in a calm, firm voice.

“Our son Aharon was taking a walk in the Ya’ar Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Forest) on Friday, August 22, and was last seen at 12 pm in the area of Yad Vashem.

“The police are working tirelessly on all fronts and all options are being strongly investigated. We would like to thank the American Consulate, the Office of the Consul-General and the FBI and the Israeli Police and ZAKA for all their efforts in trying to find our dear son Aharon.

“There is a reward of NIS 100,000 for any finder of Aharon,” he concludes, faltering slightly on the final sentence.

One of Aharon’s cousins from the United States tried to organize a ‘group think’ effort to brainstorm ways to help via Facebook.

“Below is a list of phone numbers you can call in order to get updates on my cousin’s situation, provide ideas and different ways of helping, and also to get a list of tehillim (psalms) to say as we are all trying to finish the whole sefer tehillim (Book of Psalms) over and over and over again,” he wrote. “Please spread the word, pass this on and make those calls. thank you!!!!”

A yeshiva student who joined the thousands of searchers in the Jerusalem Forest, A*, said he has spent the past three days combing the hills for his friend. “I have been up since 5 am,” he said, “and we haven’t found anything. Not a single thing. Those earlier rumors of things that were found were false reports, I think. But in a way, that’s good, right? Because it means he might still be alive.” The student added that his friend has been in Jerusalem since early last autumn, and is no novice to the area.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/missing-yeshiva-students-parents-plead-for-publics-help-in-search/2014/08/26/

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