Yisrael Kristal, a survivor of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau who is believed to be the world's oldest man, will soon celebrate his Bar Mitzvah that he missed because of World War I.
Kristal turns 113 his Thursday in Haifa, Israel. His daughter, Shulimath Kristal Kuperstoch, told the DPA news agency that about 100 family members would gather in the coming weeks to mark the rite. “We will bless him, we will dance with him, we will be happy,” she said.
Kristal was officially recognized as the world’s oldest man in March. He missed his Bar Mitzvah as his father served in the Russian army during World War I and his mother had died three years earlier, Kuperstoch said.
Born Zarnow, Poland, Kristal moved to Lodz in 1920 to work in his family’s candy business. He continued operating the business even after the Nazis forced the city’s Jews into a ghetto, where his two children died. In 1944, he was deported to Auschwitz together with his wife, who was murdered.
In 1950, he moved to Haifa with his second wife and their son, working again as a confectioner. In addition to his son and daughter, Kristal has many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
When asked at the time he was certified as the oldest living man what his secret was to long life, Kristal said: “I don’t know the secret for long life. 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.”