JERUSALEM (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mourners have buried a New Jersey yeshiva student who was found dead after he went missing while hiking on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Aaron Sofer’s funeral was held Friday in Israel. The 23-year-old from Lakewood, New Jersey was buried in the town of Beit Shemesh.
Sofer’s funeral came after authorities determined he was not the victim of foul play or a militant attack. His body was discovered Thursday by volunteers in the Jerusalem Forest, nearly a week after he disappeared while hiking with a friend.
The two apparently became separated and Sofer never emerged from the forest.
Many feared Sofer had been kidnapped in the wake of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians. Israeli media speculated that he had fallen or died of dehydration.
“The initial reports are that it was not any kind of violence, that it might have just been an accident,” Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind said Thursday. “But whatever it is, Aaron Sofer is no longer here.”
Sofer’s parents had flown to Israel to assist with the search in the days after their son disappeared. Lakewood committeeman Meir Lichtenstein said they’re overwhelmed, but relieved he had been found.
“The silver lining in the cloud is that Aaron’s disappearance and eventually death really united the community, brought a lot of good out in people. And there’s a lot of solace in that,” Lichtenstein said.
Along with his parents, Sofer left behind nine brothers and sisters.
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