LAKEWOOD, NJ (CBS) – The mayor of Lakewood, New Jersey says a body found in a Jerusalem forest is that of missing New Jersey man Aharon Sofer.

Israeli Police said the body was discovered in a Jerusalem forest in the area where Sofer was last seen.

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Twenty-three-year-old Aharon Sofer, of Lakewood, New Jersey, disappeared on Friday near Jerusalem.

Meir Goldberg, who says Sofer is a second cousin, described the mood of Lakewood as very somber Thursday.

“It’s really been something that everybody is talking and thinking about, so it’s quite shocking and upsetting.”

Sofer, who was doing religious studies abroad, had gone for a hike on Friday with a friend, but the two became separated while going down an incline.

Mayor Menashe P. Miller says the body was found about a mile away from where he was last seen by his friend. Sofer’s family has been notified.

Lakewood’s deputy mayor Albert Akerman has been in contact with members of the Sofer family who traveled to Israel this week.

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“They have very little to say they’re grieving really badly, so they have little to say other than how sad they are, they’re saying their prayers.”

New Jersey State Senator Bob Singer (R- Ocean County) confirmed that Sofer’s body was found close to where he was reported missing in the Jerusalem forest. The discovery was made by an experienced search team he’s known for a long time.

“The head of the operations there is the same gentleman that pulled my daughter out of a bus bombing in Israel 11 years ago. They were combing the forest area and Sofer was found I understand near a cliff area,” says Singer.

New Jersey Governor Christie Christie released a statement regarding Sofer: ‘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.’


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