NJ Student Who Died While Hiking in Israel Laid to Rest

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Aharon Sofer's body was found in Jerusalem Thursday where he was studying after having been missing a week. A funeral was held the morning after in Israel as mourners watched the funeral live from Lakewood, New Jersey. (Published Friday, Aug 29, 2014)

    Mourners have buried a religious school student from New Jersey who disappeared while hiking on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

    Friday's funeral in Israel came after authorities determined Aharon Sofer was not the victim of foul play or a militant attack. Israeli media speculated that he had fallen or died of dehydration.

    The body of the 23-year-old from Lakewood was found on Thursday in the same area where Sofer disappeared after he got separated from a friend while hiking last week.

    Sofer was an ultra-Orthodox student at a yeshiva, a Jewish religious school, named for its founder Rabbi Tzvi Kaplan.

    Body of Local Student Found in Israel

    [PHI] Body of Local Student Found in Israel
    Aaron Sofer's body was discovered after going missing while hiking in Israel. (Published Thursday, Aug 28, 2014)

    Sofer's parents had flown to Israel to assist with the search in the days after their son disappeared.

    A Lakewood committeeman says they're overwhelmed, but relieved he had been found.

    Having the burial the day after a death -- in this case a body being found -- is part of Jewish tradition.

    Sofer's Body was discovered around 3:30 p.m. Israeli time on Thursday just a few kilometers from where he was last seen while hiking with a friend in the Jerusalem forest.

    Sofer, who was one of 10 children, grew up in an Orthodox family in the Ocean County, New Jersey, town. He went to Jerusalem to study and was between semesters on Friday when he went hiking with a friend in the woods.

    Former Lakewood Mayor Meir Lichtenstein said Sofer wasn't an experienced hiker.

    "He actually called his mother and asked her permission," he said.

    The community had held out hope that Sofer would be found, but his death ultimately brought the community together, said Lichtenstein.