Yisrael Kristal, the World’s Oldest Man, Niftar at 113

Yisrael Kristal, oldest man, 113
Yisrael Kristal in his Haifa home in January 2016. (Shula Kopershtouk/AFP/Getty Images)

Yisrael Kristal, the world’s oldest man, was niftar Friday in Eretz Yisrael at the age of 113.

Kristal, whose petirah was reported by Haaretz, achieved a double measure of fame last year: In March, the Guiness Book of World Records certified Kristal as the world’s oldest living man, and in October, he celebrated his bar mitzvah, with a one-century delay.

Kristal was born in Zhernov (Żarnów) Poland in 1903. He turned 13 in 1916, but ­– although he was frum then and has remained frum his entire life – with World War I raging, there were no facilities or opportunities for Kristal to have a Bar Mitzvah celebration.

In 1920, Kristal moved to the Polish city of Łódź, where he married and went into the candy-manufacturing business.

Kristal survived the Holocaust, but his wife and two children were killed.

Of his ordeal in Auschwitz, Kristal told Hamodia’s Inyan Magazine in a March 2016 interview, “I wasn’t a human being — the cow was better off. One day’s experiences there could fill two books.”

When liberated by the Russians following a death march, Kristal weighed just 75 pounds.

Yisrael remarried and had children after the war. In 1950, the Kristal family left Poland for Israel, settling in Haifa, where Yisrael again went into the candy-manufacturing business.

Last October, when he turned 113, Kristal celebrated his bar mitzvah at the Kosel. Surrounded by numerous friends and family members, including many great-grandchildren, k”ah, Kristal made the brachah of Shehechiyanu and got an aliyah, as the hundreds in attendance threw candies and broke into joyous singing and dancing.

“I never thought I would survive the war. All I thought about each day was to stay alive that day, nothing more,” Kristal told Inyan in March 2016.  “So I certainly didn’t dream of having grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and whenever I look at them I know that I
have won.”