Lakewood, NJ – U.S. Rep. Chris Smith and other New Jersey politicians attended a news conference Tuesday to draw attention to a missing Yeshiva student who disappeared while on a hike in a forest outside Jerusalem last week.
Twenty-three-year-old Aharon Sofer of Lakewood, New Jersey, was last seen Friday, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
He said the police were pursuing all avenues in their investigation, including the possibility that Sofer may have fallen victim to an attack by Palestinian militants.
At Tuesday’s gathering in Lakewood, the missing man’s brother, Yaakov Sofer, pleaded, “Please bring him back.” He declined to speak further about his brother, who is one of 10 children in the family where the parents are a rabbi and a school office worker.
In Lakewood, there are growing worries about Sofer.
“Is he abducted?” asked Rabbi Yisroel Serebrowski, who leads a congregation in Cherry Hill and says he is a friend of the missing student’s parents. “Is he being tortured?”
“This is a real person who has real parents who are suffering,” Serebrowski said.
“I want the community to know that I believe no stone is being unturned,” said Smith, a Republican who has written to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asking for aid in the search.
As the search for Sofer in Jerusalem enters its fifth day, his father is asking the public to keep his son foremost in their minds and deeds.
“Please daven for Aron ben Chulda and be mikabel ‘ayn od milvado’,” Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Sofer told VIN News. “Hashem is the only source of yeshua and everything comes from Hashem. It is clear that Hashem has to be the one to bring the yeshua here.”
The Sofer family is offering a reward of 100,000 NIS to anyone who can locate their son and anyone with information about Aron’s whereabouts is asked to call 02-539-1520 or the Israeli police hotline at 100.
The Sofer family lives on 5th Street in Lakewood and Aron is the sixth of ten children. According to Rabbi Shmuel Tendler of Lakewood, a former chavrusa of Rabbi Sofer who is serving as the family’s spokesperson, Aron’s 23rd birthday is tonight on the first day of Elul.
“Aron is very close with his parents and he calls his mother every day to wish her a good morning and tell her what his schedule is going to be,” said Rabbi Tendler. “He is a serious ben Torah and the ultimate mentsh. There is a tremendous bond between Aron and his parents, who have hearts of gold. Right now they are going through tremendous agmas nefesh and they are very thankful for those who are expending their energies in this massive search. Hopefully with the help of Hashem, Aron will come home safely.”
The search for Aron involves hundreds of yeshiva bochurim as well as rescue units who have been searching the area where Aron went missing. Reports that surfaced yesterday that some of Aron’s belongings had been found have proved to be untrue. According to Eli Beer of United Hatzolah Israel police are focusing most of their efforts on intelligence.
“They have different means that they use to find things out,” explained Beer. “They are looking into every lead they have and the Shin Bet is very involved also but there are no leads yet. This is very difficult. This is not a kid who ran away.”
Please daven and say Tehillim for Aron ben Chulda.