Missing Israeli backpacker Ohad Dotan, 26, was identified by New Zealand authorities on Wednesday following his extraction from Mount Cook by an aerial rescue team.

Rabbi Menachem Goldstein, the Canterbury-based director of Chabad-Lubavitch of New Zealand who has been acting as a liaison between local officials and the Israeli Embassy in Australia, said that current plans call for Dotan’s body to be released from a hospital on Thursday. After the rabbi, with the help of several rabbinical students and local volunteers, purifies the body according to Jewish custom, Dotan will be flown back to Israel for burial.

After Israel Police notified Dotan’s family, Goldstein broke the news to the Jewish community in Canterbury, which some 20,000 Israelis visit every year on journeys through New Zealand’s mountainous scenery.

“Everyone is saddened by the news,” said the rabbi. “The Israelis who have come in today are completely shocked.”

Just last year, Goldstein aided in the search for missing Israeli backpacker Liat Tess-Okin, 35, whose body was ultimately found by investigators in the wilderness outside of Queenstown. The woman had wandered off of a trail and had apparently gotten lost without adequate food or clothing.

In the latest case, authorities believe that Dotan fell off a cliff after wandering off of a trail near Mueller Glacier, about an hour and a half from Canterbury. He had been at the Chabad House last week and was expected to attend this week’s Friday night Shabbat services, a popular event for traveling Israelis.

Richard McNamara, a manager with the New Zealand Department of Conservation in the area of Mount Cook, told reporters that crews found Dotan’s car next to the trailhead on Tuesday. An aerial search of the area located his body resting on an outcropping of rock.

“For whatever reason, [he] decided to go off the track and got himself into an area of danger and technical difficulty, and fell,” said McNamara. “It’s one of those unfortunate, tragic accidents [that] happens from time to time.”

According to the official, some 4,000 to 4,500 people use the trail each year. Local news reports said that an American died last year after straying from the same trail.

“He really wanted to be here before Shabbat,” said Nissan Zigman, an assistant manager at the Chabad House, about an hour and a half away from Mount Cook. “He was a very affable and nice guy. It was a pleasure to talk to him.”

Goldstein said that he’s working to prevent a routine autopsy, which Jewish law views in most cases as an unnecessary desecration of the body. In New Zealand, a victim’s family must lodge a formal complaint, but the final determination is up to the coroner.

“I’ve strongly advised the authorities against a post-mortem examination,” said Goldstein. “I told them it should be avoided if at all possible, especially since foul play is not suspected.”

Turning to Dotan’s family, Goldstein said that the entire New Zealand community mourns with them.

“We are keeping his family and friends in our prayers,” said the rabbi, before invoking a traditional blessing. “May they be comforted with the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”