Born in Poland in 1903, Yisrael Kristal was the only member of his immediate family to survive the Holocaust. 

An Overdue Celebration

Mr. Kristal lost both of his parents during World War One but that wasn’t all that the war took from him. While most young Jewish boys celebrate their bar mitzvah at the age of 13, the Great War delayed his celebration… for one hundred years.

With his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren gathered round, last year Mr. Kristal performed the traditional Jewish customs of the ceremony marking a young boy’s transition to manhood.

The year 2016 was a year of celebrations for him as earlier last year, Mr. Kristal was honored by Guinness World Records as the oldest living man.

A True Survival Story

After becoming orphaned, Mr. Kristal went to live with an uncle in Lodz, Poland where he helped him run the family candy store. He eventually married and had two children but the Nazi invasion of Poland landed them in the Lodz ghetto in 1939 where both children died.

In 1944, Mr. Kristal and his wife were moved to Auschwitz where she was killed. When Soviet troops rescued him in May 1945, he weighed only 37kg or 82 pounds.

After World War Two, Mr. Kristal remarried, had two more children, and moved to Haifa, Israel where he once again became a prosperous confectioner.

His daughter, Shulamith Kristal Kuperstoch told the New York Times that her father was a simple, wise, and intelligent man that believed in God and believed in himself.

A Different Perspective

Despite all that he saw and all that he survived, Mr. Kristal told Haaretz, an Israeli news source, that he found the world to be in a much worse state today.

“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 we 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.”

After falling ill on Thursday, Mr. Kristal passed away on Friday, August 11, 2017, just a month shy of his 114th birthday.

Mr. Kristal is survived by two children, nine grandchildren, and thirty great-grandchildren.

Who was the oldest member of your family? How long did they live? Did they share any secrets of their longevity? Do you want to live past 100? What are some things in your life that you want to be remembered for? Please join the conversation!

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