110-Year-Old Candymaker Now Stakes Claims as Oldest Holocaust Survivor

Yisrael Kristal Survived Camps — Frets About Today's World

haaretz

By Ofer Aderet

Published February 26, 2014.
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When he recovered, he returned to Lodz, where he met his second wife, Batsheva. He rebuilt the factory, which had been destroyed, and returned to producing candies. In 1950, Kristal, Batsheva and their young son, Chaim, immigrated to Israel on the vessel Komemiyut, and settled in Haifa. At first, Kristal worked in the Palata candy factory in the Haifa Bay area. The owners, who spoke Polish, were glad to employ an expert from their home country. Kristal taught them how to make an entire production line of sweets.

Later on, Kristal became self-employed and produced boutique sweets at home, including tiny chocolate bottles of liqueur wrapped in colored foil, jam made from carob and chocolate-covered orange peels, which he sold at a kiosk in Haifa. Between 1952 and 1970, he produced his candies at the Sar and Kristal factory on Shivat Zion Street. After the factory closed, he went back to producing candies at home.

“It’s not such a good bargain,” he said in Yiddish when he was asked how he has been able to reach his ripe old age. “Everybody has their own fortune. It’s up to God. I didn’t know before, either. There are no secrets.” When asked what he ate to stay healthy, he said, “There wasn’t always food in the camps. I ate what I was given. I eat to live, and I don’t live to eat. You don’t need too much. Anything that’s too much isn’t good. It isn’t good to be too beautiful or too smart. It isn’t good to eat too much, either. A little less is better than a little more. It’s not good to have a full stomach.”

Unlike Alice Herz-Sommer, who expressed an optimistic world view to her last breath, Kristal is more realistic. “The world is worse than in the past,” he said. “I don’t like the permissiveness here. Everything’s allowed. At one time, young people weren’t as cheeky as they are now. They had to think about a profession and about making a living. They were carpenters, tailors. That doesn’t exist today. Now it’s all high-tech. Things come easily, without effort, without the manual labor of the past. When were children, our parents told us, “You’ll marry this one, not that one. Today, children decide everything. Once upon a time, parents had the last word.”

He says, “Once, a shoemaker worked on several pairs of shoes. He knew how much he would earn each day. Today, the machine makes a hundred pairs of shoes. So there are a hundred pairs of shoes - and what do people do? There aren’t jobs for everyone. So all the shops are full, but everybody walks around barefoot and naked.”

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