Emotional pleas for more prayers and information came again from the family of Aaron Sofer on the fifth day of a massive, and so far fruitless, search for the 23-year-old New Jersey student who was last seen hiking in the Jerusalem Forest.
"We believe he is still alive and out there," his mother Chulda said from Jerusalem after being briefed there by police.
"And if everyone could think of him as their own," she said. "We really beg everyone and we plead with everyone, if anyone knows any lead to where Aaron is, if you could please contact the police immediately."
Sofer, who is one of 10 children, grew up in an ultra-Orthodox family in Lakewood, New Jersey. He's in Jerusalem studying and was between semesters on Friday when he went hiking with a friend in the woods. The two got separated, and Sofer has not been seen since.
There are fears he may have been abducted due to the Israeli war in Gaza. No one has claimed responsibility for kidnapping the yeshiva student.
Chulda and Moshe Sofer flew from the U.S. to Israel over the weekend to join the search for their son. They were briefed on the efforts Wednesday by Israeli police.
"They're not sparing any expense or any effort to see that our son comes back," Moshe said. "Unfortunately, nothing has come up."
Support for the search is growing in Lakewood, where a prayer vigil took place 8:30 Wednesday night at the Toras Aaron School.
"Everyone I ask, everyone should help bring back my brother," said 11-year-old Yechiel Sofer. "Everyone should please pray hard."
The charitable organization Chesed of Lakewood also began collecting money to help fund the ongoing search.
"Everyone's praying and we're trying to do whatever we could to assist in the safe finding of Aaron," said Ben Davidowitz a Chesed volunteer.
The search for Sofer is set to resume in Israel on Thursday.