Jerusalem: The world’s oldest man, Holocaust survivor Yisrael Kristal, is to celebrate his bar mitzvah 100 years late at the age of 113.
Kristal, who was born in Poland in 1903, began learning Hebrew at the age of three, and studying the Mishna, or Jewish laws, at six. But he missed out on the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony, traditionally marked when a boy turns 13, because of World War I. 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. As a young man, Kristal married and had two children, but the family was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp from the Lodz ghetto during World War II, and his wife and children died there. Kristal survived the Holocaust, and moved to Israel with his second wife in 1950.
The retired confectioner now has a large family, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His bar mitzvah will be held at the family’s local synagogue in Haifa. According to Guinness World Records, which recognized Kristal’s longevity in March 2016, 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.