Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
News

World’s Oldest Man Celebrates Bar Mitzvah — 100 Years Late

The world’s oldest man, 113-year-old Yisrael Kristal, a Holocaust survivor living in Israel, celebrated his bar mitzvah a century late.

Kristal, of Haifa, celebrated the rite over the weekend with his two children, grandchildren and nearly 30 great-grandchildren, The Associated Press reported. He was recognized as the world’s oldest man in March.

He missed his bar mitzvah at 13 due to World War I. His father was in the Russian army and his mother had died three years earlier.

His daughter, Shulamith Kuperstoch, told the AP on Wednesday that Kristal was “very pleased” as he recited the Shehechiyanu prayer of gratitude as a prayer shawl was draped around his shoulders while surrounded by his family.

“Everyone sang and danced around him. He was very happy,” she said. “It was always his dream to have a bar mitzvah and he really appreciated the moment.”

Kuperstoch said her father is still in good health and remembers his life in the early 20th century, including seeing a car for the first time at age 9.

Born on Sept. 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 killed. In 1950, he moved to Haifa with his second wife and their son, working again as a confectioner.

When asked at the time he was certified as the oldest living man 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.”

Engage

  • Events

    Haart to Haart

    Virtual

    Dec 7, 2022

    7 pm ET · 

    A conversation with Julia Haart and her son Shlomo, stars of Netflix's 'My Unorthodox Life,' about the new season and much more.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.