LAKEWOOD - The family of a Lakewood man who disappeared in Israel has enlisted the help of a local congressman in calling for his safe return.
Rep. Chris Smith says both U.S. and Israeli officials are "leaving no stone unturned" as they search for 23-year old Aharon Sofer. The case has drawn international attention.
Sofer, a rabbinical student, disappeared Friday in a wooded area when he went hiking with a friend in the Jerusalem Forest.
Sofer's parents flew to Israel over the weekend. In a video message, Aharon's mother Chulda Sofer clutches a missing person's photo of Aharon and asks for leads. "Please if anyone sees anything of Aharon, please call the police immediately."
Police say they are considering the possibility that the student was attacked by Palestinian militants.
"There are concerns. We know about the possibility of abduction," says Smith. "But no claims have been made - so that's a good sign."
Aharon is described as kind and serious about his studies. He is one of 10 siblings. His Lakewood family is hoping to bring more attention to the case.
Hundreds of friends and family members held a prayer service Tuesday afternoon and prayed for a swift and safe return.
Sofer's brother, Yaakov Sofer, pleaded with those who might know his whereabouts. "I have just one message - bring back my brother," he says.
Tension in Israel has led to several high profile incidents involving young people. In June, three Israeli teens were kidnapped and killed by Hamas terrorists. An Arab teen was killed in what may have been retaliation in July.
Sofer is an ultra-Orthodox student at a yeshiva, a Jewish religious school.