Yisrael Kristal is celebrating his 113th birthday by finally having a bar mitzvah, 100 years later than he originally planned.
“We will bless him, we will dance with him, we will be happy,” his daughter, Shulamis (Kristal) Kuperstock, told the DPA news agency.
About 100 of Mr. Kristal’s family members are going to Eretz Yisroel to celebrate with him.
In 1916, when Mr. Kristal was 13 and should have had his bar mitzvah, Poland was embroiled in World War I, so that wasn’t possible.
As Matzav reported back in March, Guinness World Records confirmed that Kristal, of Haifa, is 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 lived through both World Wars and survived Nazi war camp Auschwitz in the 1940s before relocating to Eretz Yisroel.
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.
Mazel tov to Mr. Kristal. May he continue to celebrate good time ad me’ah ve’esrim – and beyond.
David Steger – Matzav.com Israel News Bureau