POLITICS

World's Oldest Man, Holocaust Survivor Yisrael Kristal, Dead At 113

Last year, he finally got to celebrate his bar mitzvah.

08/11/2017 12:30 EDT | Updated 08/11/2017 20:14 EDT
SHULA KOPERSHTOUK via Getty Images
Yisrael Kristal at home in the Israeli city of Haifa. Yisrael in January 2016. His family say he was born in Poland on Sept. 15, 1903, three months before the Wright brothers took the first aeroplane flight.

Yisrael Kristal, the world’s oldest mandied Friday in Israel, local media reported. He was 113.

Kristal was born to a Jewish family in 1903 in Poland and became an orphan when his father was killed near the end of World War I, his mother having died in 1910.

He moved in with his uncles and opened a candy shop with one of them in the city Lodz, in central Poland. But then Nazis invaded and occupied Poland in 1939, marking the beginning of World War II, and Kristal was moved to a ghetto in the city with his wife, Chaja Feige Frucht, and their two children.

His children died in the ghetto and he and his wife were sent to the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz, where she was killed.

Kristal survived the ordeal and moved permanently to Israel in 1950 with his second wife, Batsheva, with whom he had a further two children.

Last year, Kristal made headlines after finally getting to celebrate the bar mitzvah he missed out on in 1916. With his mother dead and his father drafted into the Russian army, there was no one for the boy to celebrate with. 

Instead, Kristal was able to celebrate his bar mitzvah and 113th birthday with his two surviving children, nine grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren, The New York Times reported. 

“My father is a religious man, and it was his dream his whole life to have a bar mitzvah,” his daughter Shulamith Kristal Kuperstoch, told the Times. “It was a miracle after everything that he has been through in his life. What else can you call it?”

In March of 2016, the Guinness World Records officially named him the world’s oldest man.

“There have been smarter, stronger and better looking men than me who are no longer alive,” he told the Guinness World Records at the time. “All that is left for us to do is to keep on working as hard as we can and rebuild what is lost.”

A spokeswoman for Guinness said it was with deep “regret and great sympathy” that they announced his death.

“Guinness World Records is consulting with our expert Gerontologists to verify the potential successor and will announce the new record holder as soon as we are in a position to do so,” spokeswoman Sofia Rocher said in a statement.

Kristal was one month away from celebrating his 114th birthday. He is survived by his two younger children and his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

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