113 Years And Counting: World’s Oldest Man Celebrates Bar Mitzvah

By Oren Liebermann

PHILADELPHIA (CNN) — The world’s oldest man, Holocaust survivor Yisrael Kristal, celebrated his bar mitzvah this weekend — 100 years late.

Born in Poland in 1903, Kristal studied Hebrew and Jewish law as a youngster. But he missed his bar mitzvah — a Jewish coming-of-age ceremony celebrated when a boy turns 13 — because of World War I.

“This was a miracle that came true in front of our eyes,” said his daughter, Shulimath Kristal Kuperstoch, who organized the ceremony in northern Israel.

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About 60 friends and family members attended the bar mitzvah on Saturday morning, Kuperstoch said.

A Devout Orthodox Jew, Kristal recited the Kaddish prayer, which praises God, and the Shehecheyanu, a prayer for celebrating special occasions. Following the bar mitzvah, attendants lobbed candy at Kristal, a festive tradition used to symbolize a sweet life. It is most commonly seen at bar mitzvahs for young men, but the supercentenarian loved it, his daughter said.

Dark past

As a young man, Kristal married and had two children, who died in the Lodz ghetto during World War II. Later, he and his wife were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where his wife died.

He survived the Holocaust, and moved to Israel with his second wife in 1950.

Kristal was officially recognized as the world’s oldest man by Guinness World Records in March 2016.

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During his bar mitzvah, Kuperstoch said he was quiet for much of the time, perhaps reflecting on the importance of the moment and remembering those who could not be there to celebrate with him.

“Holocaust survivors know how to welcome this moment better than anyone else,” she said.

The retired confectioner now has a large family, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


According to Guinness World Records, he has carried out the rites of his devout Orthodox faith “continuously and rigorously” for 100 years.

He has wrapped phylacteries (tefilin) “every morning for the last century, with the exception of the Holocaust and both world wars,” the organization wrote.

The tefilin is the practice of fixing Torah texts in small black boxes to the head and hand during prayers, following literally the commandment that calls for believers to bind excerpts of religious scriptures to their hands and their eyes.

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When he was named the world’s oldest man, Kristal insisted, “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 told Guinness World Records.

“There have been smarter, stronger and better-looking men then me who are no longer alive,” he said. “All that is left for us to do is to keep on working as hard as we can and rebuild what is lost.”

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2016 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


One Comment

  1. william Brand says:

    He was alive at the time of the Balfour decree that begin Israel. Jesus said that this generation shall not pass away until the end.

  2. Edwin Rorlite says:

    …(Huge sigh) Omg, another holocaust story.. Haven’t we heard this enough already? Let’s move on pretty please??

    1. Russ says:

      It’s not a Holocaust story, it’s a human interest story. Imagine that guy at 113 years old getting his Bar Mitzvah. My grandfather died in 1973 – 43 years ago – at the age of 83, and this man was born when my old gramps was just a 13 year old boy. Amazing.

    2. Anne says:

      No, we can’t and shouldn’t move on. Consider what this man went through. He should be honored everyday. I find your comment extremely rude and thoughtless.

    3. Tony Johnson says:

      Not everyone’s antisemitic like you…

    4. Jean says:

      It’s for people like yourself that the phrase, “Never forget” was crafted. You would LOVE to ignore the reality of the Holocaust, because you would love to pretend it could never happen again …. either to the Jews or some other demographic. But just because you choose to pretend human nature has somehow improved over the course of history doesn’t make that a fact. And that is reason enough to remember.

  3. Bob Wired says:

    Two world wars?—My word, to think there are still those among us who still do recall the First World War and were alive during its time…Would imagine those from about 102 up can recall remembrances of it. In Europe it started a few years before we jumped in. What a great man, to have survived such horror and loss as he did and be able to celebrate a missed and Just Reward from so very long ago. May God continue to Bless him, even though it appears God damned him with suffering and loss…but the truly faithful know that part is not true…but bring on the Bill Maher’s of the world to castigate any topic or person to do with Belief and Faith in something besides Self and Left Wing. Godless People.

  4. this is INCREDIBLE !! an Auschwitz prisoner living to be the oldest man on Earth…and being a strict devotee is just incredible. His job was a candy maker, and they throw candy at him for his bar mitzvah – amazing. The only thing that interrupted his devotions was TWO WORLD WARS!…this guy is awesome. Anybody who says different can go to hell, and probably will.

    1. Russ says:

      I’m not buying that 145 years story. Sorry. The oldest proven person died at like 122 years, a lady in France. Once you get way up there it takes very little to end you – a bad cold or the flu or something else which a younger person can easily withstand. Reaching 145 is like sinking a putt from 100 yards, just too many ways for things to go wrong.

  5. Mary Donnelly says:

    Really?? Let’s see his birth certificate….yeah, I didn’t think so….

    1. Ted Jones says:

      Here we go again!!! Another birther.

  6. Big Freddy says:

    Adolf Hitler The Greatest Story Never Told watch it then tell me about your so called holohoax.

  7. Sailordude says:

    Anything to keep reminding Americans of this genocide. It does get old though. America saved them yet we get 10X more Holocaust news then German media. Oy vey.

Comments are closed.

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