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Yisrael Kristal (1903 - 2017)

Getty / AFP / Shula Kopershtouk

Yisrael Kristal (1903 - 2017)

Yisrael Kristal, the world’s oldest man and a Holocaust survivor, died Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, in Israel, according to BBC News. He was 113.

Kristal, who was recognized as the world’s oldest man by the Guinness Book of World Records, did not get to celebrate his bar mitzvah as a 13-year-old in his native Poland because of World War I. He received media attention from around the world when he decided to celebrate it last year when he turned 113.

Born Sept. 15, 1903, near Zarnow, Poland, in what was then a part of the Russian Empire, he worked in a candy factory between the world wars and became a skilled confectioner. He married Chaja Feige Frucht in 1928, and the couple had two children.

Following the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, he and his family were forcibly moved into the Lodz Ghetto, where his children died. He and his wife were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944, where she died. He survived to be liberated by the Soviet Red Army in 1945.

After World War II, he met and married his second wife, Batsheva, who was also a Holocaust survivor. They had two children.

In 1950, they immigrated to Israel, settling in Haifa, where he continued to work in the candy-making industry. He spent time working for large candy factories and for his own personal business, selling handcrafted candies from his home.

He was recognized as the world’s oldest man following the death of the former record-holder from Japan, supercentenarian Yasutaro Koide, who died Jan. 18, 2016.

At Kristal’s bar mitzvah celebration in September 2016, surrounded by his grandchildren and their families, he reflected on both his personal longevity and the tragedy of the Holocaust.

“Here’s one person, and look how many people he brought to life,” he said. “As we’re all standing here crowded under my tallis, I’m thinking, ‘6 million people. Imagine the world they could’ve built.’”

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