The world’s oldest man passed away Friday at the admirable age of 113.
Polish-born Yisrael Kristal died a month before he was set to turn 114, Israeli Media reported. Kristal, who lived in Haifa, Israel, made headlines last year by planning his bar mitzvah a century late. Kristal missed out on the opportunity for his first bar mitzvah when he was 13 due to the fact that World War I broke out.
Kristal was born in the Polish village of Zarnow, just after the turn of the 20th century in 1903. Located 90 miles southwest of Warsaw, Zarnow would be a tumultuous place in the coming decades of Kristal’s life.
He lost both his parents in World War I and, in turn, moved to Lodz, Poland, to join the family’s confectionary business. When Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Kristal, his wife, and two children were moved to the Lodz ghetto. He and his wife battled through the death of their two children and were moved to Auschwitz when the Lodz ghetto was liquidated in 1944.
Kristal made it out of World War II with a remarkable, inspiring, and tragic survival story, as, after dealing with the death of his two children in Lodz, Kristal’s wife was murdered in Auschwitz. Kristal fought on, however, staying alive by demonstrating his worth to Nazi supervisors through forced slave labor.
After the war, Kristal emigrated with his second wife and child to Israel in 1950, where he continued to run his confectionary business until his retirement.
Speaking at the time, he admitted he did not know the secret to a long life, saying: “There have been smarter, stronger and better-looking men than me who are no longer alive.”
He is survived by two children, as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren. His daughter Shula Koperstoch told Hebrew website Ynet (in Hebrew): “Despite all that he went through, and he lost the whole family in the Holocaust, he had a lot of optimism, and he always saw only light and good in everything.”
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