Lakewood Student Lost in Isreal

Parents of a New Jersey student who has been missing in Jerusalem for four days are offering a $100,000 reward for his safe return.

Aaron Sofer, 23, of Lakewood, went missing August 22 while hiking with a friend in the Jerusalem Forest, according to the Jerusalem Post.

His parents, Chulda and Moshe Sofer, appealed to the public this week to aid in the search for their lost son.

"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," Mrs. Sofer said.

In Jerusalem, hundreds of police officers, volunteers and the emergency response and rescue organizations, ZAKA and United Hatzalah, have been searching for Sofer since the day after his disappearance. The FBI and the American Consulate have also joined in the manhunt for the student, who has been studying at a religious school in Jerusalem for approximately one year.

According to reports, Sofer went missing in the Beit Zayit area of the woods on Friday morning while hiking with a friend. The two became separated while navigating a steep incline and were never reunited.

After a couple of hours without hearing from Sofer, the police were notified and the search ensued. So far, no clues to the student’s whereabouts have been found.

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said in a statement this week that police have been pursuing all avenues in their investigation, including the possibility that Sofer may have fallen victim to an attack by Palestinian militants.

The crisis between Israelis and Palestinians has spiked in recent weeks with the violence between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which erupted in July. The crisis stemmed from the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank by Hamas operatives in June.

Police describe Sofer as approximately 5 feet 9 inches tall, slender, with a close-cropped red beard, wearing glasses, a white shirt, yarmulke and black trousers at the time of his disappearance. Anyone with information that may assist in locating Sofer has been asked to call the Jerusalem Police at 02-5391520.

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