Mr. Israel Kristal turned 113 years old on Thursday. Earlier this year, he was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest man alive. Born in Poland on September 15, 1903, Kristol studied the Torah from a young age and was a master candymaker most of his life. His mother died when he was seven, and then his father was drafted by the Imperial Russian Army and died in World War I. Kristol turned 13 during that time and never had a bar mitzvah.
During World War II, Kristol’s two children died during the family’s confinement in the Lodz ghetto. He and his wife were sent to Auschwitz in 1944, where she died. When the Red Army liberated Auschwitz in 1945, Kristol weighed only 37 kilograms (81 pounds). Within a few years, he remarried, emigrated to Haifa, Israel, and had two more children. He now has dozens of descendants. And soon he will have the bar mitzvah he was denied during the Great War.
His daughter, Shulamith Kristal-Kuperstoch, told CNN that Kristal's long-delayed bar mitzvah would be held close to his Hebrew birthday, which falls this year on October 2.
Kristal-Kuperstoch said it would be a "privilege" for her to organize the upcoming ceremony for her father, as a way of correcting the past, and as a gift to him.
Kristal has been carrying out Jewish rituals and responsibilities for 100 years now. When they get to the part where they traditionally say, “Today, you are a man,” they will really mean “Today, you are THE man.”
(Image credit: Guinness Book of World Records)