A 112-year-old Israeli who lived through both world wars and survived the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp is the world’s oldest man, Guinness World Records announced on Friday.
Guinness said in a statement that Israel Kristal is 112 years and 178 days old as of March 11.
Marco Frigatti, head of records for Guinness, awarded Kristal a certificate at his home in Haifa on Friday.
“I don’t know the secret for long life,” Guinness quoted Kristal as saying. “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 then 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,” he added.
Guinness said Kristal was born in 1903 to an Orthodox Jewish family near the town of Zarnow in Poland. He was orphaned as a teenager and moved to Lodz to work in the family confectionery business in 1920. During the Nazi occupation of Poland he was confined to the ghetto there and later sent to Auschwitz and other concentration camps. His first wife, Feige, and their two children were killed in the Holocaust.
Kristal survived World War II weighing only 37 kilograms (82 pounds) — the only survivor of his large family. He moved to Israel in 1950 with his second wife, Batsheva, also a Holocaust survivor, and their son.
In Israel, Kristal “continued to grow both his family and his successful confectionery business,” Guinness said.
He and his wife had a daughter and two more sons, one of whom died as an infant. Kristal now has grandchildren and great-grandchildren all over Israel.
His daughter, Shula Kuperstoch, said her father’s faith and optimism have helped him live into old age.
“Father is a religious man, a man of faith,” she said. “He wakes up each morning and puts on tefillin. He says we must take everything in proportion, both the good and the bad.”
Kuperstoch added that Kristal was not overly excited upon receiving the news that he is now the oldest man in the world. “He was happy, of course,” she said, “but he has experienced so much in his life and people at his age have already seen and been through almost everything.
“Still, this is a very exciting tribute. After all he has been through, he deserves some pleasure, and the whole family is happy for him.”
Yasutaro Koide of Japan was previously the oldest man in the world. He died in January at the age of 112 years, 312 days.
Susannah Mushatt Jones, 116, an American born in 1899, is both the world’s oldest living person and the oldest living woman, Guinness said.
Source: Israel Hayom