Skip To Content
Breaking News

Search Continues for Missing Yeshiva Student From New Jersey

Israel Police units continued to search in the Jerusalem Forest area for a haredi Orthodox yeshiva student from Lakewood, N.J, who has been missing for four days.

Aaron Sofer, 23, 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.

Aaron Sofer

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Israeli media that police are pursuing all avenues in their investigation, including what he called “nationalistic motives,” which could refer to a terror attack.

Israeli media reported that police dogs found some of Sofer’s personal effects during the search.

In June, a Palestinian teen was abducted and then taken to the Jerusalem Forest where he was knocked out and burned to death. The murder was a revenge attack for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens.

On Monday, New Jersey politicians called for more help from both the U.S. and Israeli governments in the search for Sofer.

The FBI reportedly is involved in the search for Sofer and the U.S. embassy is being updated with developments, the Times of Israel reported citing Sofer family spokesperson Dov Hirth.

Sofer’s parents reportedly have arrived in Israel as the search for their son continues. They have reportedly called for the Israel Defense Forces to get involved in the search.

The rescue organizations ZAKA and Ichud Hatzalah, and a police canine unit, searched for Sofer over Shabbat. Volunteers, mostly haredi, began searching on Saturday night and Sunday, according to Yeshiva World.

On Sunday, the search spread to include the Bayit Vegan, Hadassah and Ein Kerem neighborhoods overlooking the forest.

Prayer vigils have been held in Lakewood, N.J. since the disappearance. “It’s scary to think what possibly could be the ramifications,” Sofer’s neighbor Tzvi Meth told CBS New York.

“Great fear is that he was accosted; he was taken away, kidnapped.”

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.