Jerusalem – Israeli Holocaust survivor Yisrael Kristal, certified last year by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest man, died on Friday aged 113, Israeli media reported.
Since he was an observant Jew, his family could not be reached on Friday evening, the onset of the Jewish sabbath.
“Yisrael Kristal… died on Friday a month before his 114th birthday,” Haaretz daily reported in its online edition.
News site Ynet said he was survived by two children, 9 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren.
The World Jewish Congress noted his passing in a brief Twitter statement.
“Holocaust survivor Yisrael Kristal was the oldest man in the world. Yisrael passed away today. May his memory be a blessing.”
Kristal, originally from Zarnow in what is now Poland, was born on September 15, 1903 – three months before the Wright brothers’ first successful powered aeroplane flight.
Guinness World Records recognised him as the world’s oldest man in March 2016.
100 years later
In September he celebrated his Bar Mitzvah after a century-long delay.
Usually marked at 13 for boys and 12 or 13 for girls – a Bat Mitzvah in that case – it marks the transition into someone responsible for his or her actions.
Kristal was unable to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah in 1916 because his mother had died three months earlier and his father was a soldier in the Russian army at the time of World War I.
“My father is religious and has prayed every morning for 100 years, but he has never had his Bar Mitzvah,” his daughter Shula Koperstoch told AFP last year.
After World War I, Kristal moved to Lodz where he worked in the family confectionery factory, married and had two children.
But his life was disrupted when the Jewish quarter of the city became a ghetto under Nazi occupation during World War II and Kristal was sent to the infamous Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Around 1.1 million people, most of them European Jews, perished in the camp between 1940 and 1945 before it was liberated by Soviet forces.
His wife and two children died but Kristal survived, weighing just 37 kg at the end of the war.
He then moved to Israel, where he opened a sweet shop.
Guinness World Records’ website said that on receiving his certificate at his home in the northern Israeli city of Haifa last year Kristal offered no explanation for his longevity.
“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,” he said.
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