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Body of missing Lakewood man, Aaron Sofer, found in Israel

Officials in Israel and New Jersey Thursday confirmed that a body found in the Jerusalem Forest is that of Lakewood resident Aaron Sofer, who had been missing since Friday.

Lakewood councilman Mier Lichtenstein talks to the media about the discovery of Aaron Sofer's body in Jerusalem.
Lakewood councilman Mier Lichtenstein talks to the media about the discovery of Aaron Sofer’s body in Jerusalem. (The Lakewood Scoop)

At a press conference in Lakewood, Councilman Meir Lichtenstein said the 23-year-old’s body was discovered in the Ein Kerem neighborhood next to the forest. He said the death was the result of an accident while Sofer was walking on rough terrain but did not go into detail.

ABC is quoting Israeli Spokesman Micki Rosenfeld as also confirming the identification of the body as that of Sofer.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie issued the following statement:

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family of Aharon Sofer on their unthinkable loss. As parents, Mary Pat and I cannot imagine the sense of grief and sadness that engulfs them at this moment. We add our thoughts and prayers to those of so many in New Jersey and around the world for this family and the community of Lakewood. Together, we can help them deal with this awful tragedy.”

Lichtenstein said Sofer did not wear hiking gear when he was in the forest.

Sofer will be buried in Israel as soon as possible following Orthodox tradition, Lichtenstein said, although arrangements had not been set. He said the entire Sofer family will sit Shiva in Lakewood next week.

Police forensics examining body found in the Jerusalem forest on Thursday.
Police forensics examining body found in the Jerusalem forest on Thursday. (@MickyRosenfeld via Twitter)

ABC reports Sofer’s family may not allow an autopsy on the badly decomposed body, in accordance with Orthodox custom. Sofer’s body was found in a 2-foot ditch 400 meters from a house. His hat and glasses were found 150 yards away.

A spokesman for the Sofer family told the Jerusalem Post they “do not wish to make any comments at this time.”

United Hatzolah founder Eli Beer tells Yeshia World that his teams searched an unchecked area when the body was found wearing a white shirt and black pants,similar to what Sofer was seen wearing in a photograph of him waiting for a light rail train.

Sofer went missing last Friday during a hike in the forest. A search led by Israeli Police has been underway for the past seven days.

A funeral service for Sofer will take place in Israel Friday morning, according to The Jerusalem Post. He will be buried next to his grandfather at the Eretz Chaim Cemetery in Beit Shemesh.

Dan Alexander contributed to this report

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