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Found and Lost

Shimmy Blum

As Lakewood wrestled with the pain and sadness of the loss of one of their best and brightest talmidim, support poured in from the four corners of the Jewish world for the family of Aaron Sofer z”l.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

It’s difficult to describe the feeling of a community when one of its finest bnei Torah was lost in the prime of his life under extraordinarily painful circumstances. As summer vacation ended, and a new zeman and school year commenced, the Lakewood community has been living under a dark cloud since the moment the news of Aaron Sofer z”l’s disappearance and passing hit our shores. Mourners from all corners of the community and well beyond filed into the Sofer home, seeking to offer solidarity and a modicum of comfort to the bereaved parents, who had just returned home from Eretz Yisrael after the desperate search for their son ended with a heartrending levayah.  For nearly a week, virtually every community member had the image of Aaron Sofer in his mind; while davening, saying Tehillim, and inquiring about the latest developments as teams in Israel continued to search for the young man who disappeared the previous Friday on a hike in the Jerusalem Forest. Concern turned into panic as the days passed and the search uncovered no leads. By Wednesday evening, a special community gathering had been called in Ateres Reva Hall for the recitation of Tehillim and divrei chizuk. Traffic stretched for a mile around all sides of the hall as the event commenced. The community’s worst fears were realized the following morning when the news from Israel hit hard. Aaron’s body had been located, hat and jacket close by. Panic turned into mourning. The news hit Lakewood hard — especially at Yehivas Ohr Moshe, where Aaron had learned until last year, when he transitioned to Rav Tzvi Kaplan’s yeshivah in Yerushalayim. Ohr Moshe is headed by Aaron’s uncle, Rav Binyomin Eisemann shlita. “We lost the biggest talmid chacham and masmid in yeshivah, who never hurt a fly,” remarked a friend, Yochi Klitnick. It didn’t take any prodding for the bochurim at Ohr Moshe to pour out their memories. Well before his name made headlines, Aaron was recognized as a special soul. He arrived early to Shacharis every day, never, ever shmoozed during seder, and learned during bein hasedarim as well as after he returned home at night. He would arrive late to breakfast each day — he first had to set up the tables in beis medrash so that they’d be ready for seder — and wouldn’t bother toasting his bread, since it would take too much time off learning.

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