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New Jersey student Aaron Sofer still missing in Israel after disappering into forest

A photograph of Aaron Sofer, 23, is nearby

A photograph of Aaron Sofer, 23, is nearby as people listen during a news conference Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014, in Lakewood, N.J. Photo Credit: AP / Mel Evans

Authorities are still searching for a New Jersey Yeshiva student who went missing in the Jerusalem forest in Israel several days ago.

The Lakewood, New Jersey, student, 23-year-old Aaron Sofer, disappeared on Friday while hiking in the forest after his friend lost sight of him while going down an incline at about noon local time, said New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith.

A massive search kicked off six hours later for Sofer, who was in Israel studying, Smith said.

Yesterday several local politicians and community leaders gathered in New Jersey, Smith said, adding he also met with Sofer's relatives.

Smith had sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday.

Sofer's father and uncle traveled to Israel to help with the search, Smith said in a statement.

Secretary Kerry's chief of staff, David Wade, said the department was "totally committed to assisting" Sofer and his family, Smith said.

An online fundraising campaign had raised more than $2,000 to assist in the search for Sofer as of last evening.

In June, the bodies of three abducted teens in Israel were found, more than two weeks after they had gone missing.

They were found in an open field about 15 miles from where they went missing in the West Bank.

A ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas aimed at ending the seven-week conflict that began in the wake of the teens' disappearance went into effect Tuesday.

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