YISRAEL Kristal, a Holocaust survivor from Haifa who was recognised by Guinness World Records as the oldest man in the world, has died, a month before his 114th birthday.
Born on September 15, 1903, in the town of Zarnow, Poland, Kristal moved to Lodz in 1920 to work in his family’s candy business. He continued operating the business after the Nazis forced the city’s Jews into a ghetto, where Kristal’s two children died. In 1944, he was deported to Auschwitz, where his wife, whom he had married at 25, was murdered.
In 1950, he moved to Haifa with his second wife and their son, working again as a confectioner. In addition to his son and daughter, Kristal has numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Guinness recognised him as the world’s oldest living man in 2016. When asked at the time what his secret was to long life, 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 than 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.”
Last year, when he turned 113, about 100 family members celebrated his bar mitzvah, a century after he missed it due to the upheavals of World War I.