Family of N.J. yeshiva student missing in Jerusalem offers reward

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The family of a yeshiva student from New Jersey who went missing in the Jerusalem Forest has offered a $28,000 reward for his return.

Aaron Sofer, 23, of Lakewood, was last seen at noon Friday when he and a friend began climbing down a steep incline on a hiking trail. The friend called police several hours later and reported Sofer missing.

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Sofer’s parents, Chulda and Moshe, on Tuesday released a video on social media begging for information leading to his return and offering the reward of 100,000 shekels, or about $28,000.

“I want to thank everyone for all the help, but I ask you, please, please, please I beg of you, beg you, please, if anyone sees any whereabouts of Aaron, please call the police immediately,” Chulda Sofer says, sobbing, on the video.

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, the FBI and the Israeli Police and ZAKA for all their efforts in trying to find our dear son Aaron,” Moshe Sofer said.
Prayer vigils have been held in Lakewood since the disappearance.

On Tuesday evening, Rachel Fraenkel, mother of Naftali Fraenkel, one of three Israeli teens kidnapped and murdered in June, met with the Sofer family, Kikar Shabbat reported.

U.S. Rep Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who represents Lakewood, said in a statement issued Tuesday that the U.S. Consul General in Israel is “working closely with Israeli police at all levels of Israeli government to comb the Jerusalem forest. It’s not all that big an area. I want the family to know that I believe that no stone is being left unturned in the effort, and to know that all of our prayers are for Aaron’s safe return.”

Smith, a member of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry Monday urging that the State Department take every action to help in the effort to locate Sofer.