The world’s oldest man, 113-year-old Yisrael Kristal, a Holocaust survivor who lives in Haifa, celebrated his bar mitzvah. It was only a century late.
Mr. Kristal celebrated over the weekend with his two children, grandchildren, and nearly 30 great-grandchildren, the Associated Press reported. He was recognized as the world’s oldest man in March.
He missed his bar mitzvah at 13 due to World War I. His father was in the Russian army, and his mother had died three years earlier.
His daughter, Shulamith Kuperstoch, told the AP on Wednesday that Mr. Kristal was “very pleased” as he recited the Shehechiyanu prayer of gratitude, surrounded by his family, as a tallis was draped around his shoulders.
“Everyone sang and danced around him,” she said. “He was very happy. It was always his dream to have a bar mitzvah, and he really appreciated the moment.”
Ms. Kuperstoch said her father is still in good health. He still remembers his life in the early 20th century; his memories include the first time he saw a car. He was 9 years old.
Born on Sept. 15, 1903, in the town of Zarnow, Poland, Mr. Kristal moved to Lodz in 1920 to work in his family’s candy business. He continued running the business after the Nazis forced the city’s Jews into a ghetto, where his two children died. In 1944 he was deported to Auschwitz, where his wife was killed. In 1950, he moved to Haifa with his second wife and their son and went to work as a confectioner again. His family in Israel grew.
When he was certified as the oldest living man, he was asked what his secret to long life was. “I don’t know the secret for long life,” Mr. Kristal answered. “I believe that everything is determined from above, and we shall never know the reasons why. There have been smarter, stronger, and better-looking men than me who are no longer alive.
“All that is left for us to do is to keep on working as hard as we can and rebuild what is lost.”
JTA Wire Service