Guinness World Records today confirmed that Yisrael Kristal of Haifa, Israel, is now the world’s oldest living man.
Born in Poland, near the town of Zarnow on September 15, 1903, to Moszek-Dawid and Brucha Krystztal, Mr. Kristal has lived through both World Wars and survived Nazi war camp Auschwitz in the 1940s before relocating to Eretz Yisroel.
Kristal claims the title at the age of 112 years and 178 days as of today, March 11, 2016, and was awarded his certificate at his home in Haifa by Guinness World Records’ Head of Records Marco Frigatti.
Upon being confirmed as the world’s Oldest living man and receiving his Guinness World Records certificate, Mr. 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 then 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.”
Marco Frigatti, Head of Records for GWR, said of Mr. Kristal’s achievement, “This record category continues to be one of particular human interest and we have been able to verify that as the new Oldest living man. Mr. Kristal’s achievement is remarkable – he can teach us all an important lesson about the value of life and how to stretch the limits of human longevity.”
At age 3, Kristal started to learn in a local cheder. At four, he learnt Chumash, and at six Mishna. At eleven, separated from his parents, he survived the First World War.
In 1920, he moved to Łódź in Poland to work in the family confectionary business.
Following the Nazi invasion of Poland and the occupation of Łódź, Kristal was moved into the Łódź ghetto with his family in 1939.
Four years later, he was sent to Auschwitz. Kristal lost his wife, Chaja Feige Frucht, and their two children in the Holocaust.
Kristal himself survived, performing backbreaking slave labor in Auschwitz and other concentration camps. He was rescued from the brink of death by the Allies in May 1945 weighing only 37 kilos.
A sole survivor of a large family, he emigrated in 1950 to the city of Haifa with his second wife and their son.
Since that time, Kristal continued to grow both his family and his successful confectionary business until his retirement. He now lives in Haifa, surrounded by his loving family.
Born to a frum family, Kristal never had a bar mitzvah due to the hardships of WWI. However, he has continuously and rigorously been performing the mitzvah of tefillin every morning for the last century, with the exception of the Holocaust and both world wars.
The previous oldest man, Yasutaro Koide of Japan, died in January 2016 at the age of 112 years, 312 days.
The oldest living person is Susannah Mushatt Jones, who is 115 years and 249 days, also making her the oldest living woman.
The oldest person ever to have lived is also female, Jeanne Calment (France), who lived to 122 years and 164 days.
Text and photo courtesy of GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS.