Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Missing: Aharon Sofer

Border police and volunteers involved in the search for Aharon Sofer (VIN)
A few words about Aharon Sofer, the 22 year old Yeshiva student from Lakewood New Jersey who has been studying in Israel over the past year. He went missing last Friday during a hike with a friend in the Jerusalem Forest. The two split up on a steep hill somewhere near Yad Vashem and Aharon has not been seen or heard from since.

 I have been following the developments (or more accurately - the lack of them) since I found out he was missing. I cannot imagine the pain his parents must be going through, although one can get a hint of it by watching his mother pleading for help in the video below. 

Aharon Sofer
At this point in time there seems to be no clue as to what happened to him or his whereabouts. It does not do anyone any good to speculate about that. What is somewhat comforting to know is that all the stops have been pulled out in an effort to find him. As Aaron’s father notes in 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.”
New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee made the following statement:
“I am deeply concerned over the disappearance of New Jersey student Aaron Sofer in Israel and I stand in solidarity with his family…”  “My thoughts are with them and the Lakewood community during this trying time. ” 
“By all accounts, Aaron is a devout and dedicated student, who travelled to Israel to enhance his knowledge and deepen his understanding of sacred Jewish texts. For yeshiva students like Aaron, there is no greater pursuit than to live and study in Jerusalem, while worshipping at Judaism’s holiest sites.” 
“Ever since I was notified that Aaron went missing in Israel, my office has worked very closely with the State Department, US Embassy and Consular officials in Israel, and the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC.  While investigators are pursuing every lead, we keep Aaron and his family in our thoughts and prayers. ”
New Jersey Congressman  Chris Smith (whose district includes Lakewood)  made the following statement:
“I learned about Aharon Sofer over the weekend and became very concerned for his well-being. I immediately 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 Aharon,” said Smith. “In response, Secretary Kerry’s chief of staff, David Wade, assured me that the Department ‘was totally committed to assisting Aharon and his family,’”
I hold to hope that Aharon will be located and returned to his family safely,” “Until that day comes, he and his family are in our prayers, and I will work with the State Department to use all resources available to find him and bring him to safety.”
Aharon’s parents are now in Israel in order to aid in the search for their son. They have offered a reward of 100,000 NIS to anyone that can locate him. Anyone with any information is asked to call 02-5391520, or the Israel Police hotline on 100.

Tomorrow is Aharon’s 23rd Birthday. His mother has asked for prayers for his safe return. Specifically for those who are can - to say the second chapter of Tehilim for the merit of his safe return. May Aharon Ben Chulda be returned safely and speedily to his family.

Video source: YWN