Turning 113 on Thursday, Yisrael Kristal of Israel is officially the world’s oldest man — and soon will be history’s oldest bar mitzvah boy.

Yisrael Kristal is world’s oldest man. Photo via gerontology.wikia.com
Kristal’s coming-of-age ceremony is set for coming weeks, according to his daughter Shulimath Kristal Kuperstoch.

World media have jumped on the story, including the BBC, which said Kristal would perform the traditional rituals, including putting on phylacteries (small boxes containing biblical verses worn on the head and arm) and saying blessings over the Torah.

The World Jewish Congress hailed the coming “now I am a man” moment.

“Yisrael Kristal, a survivor of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau … will soon celebrate his Bar Mitzvah that he missed because of World War I. … Kuperstoch told the DPA news agency that about 100 family members would gather in the coming weeks to mark the rite. ‘We will bless him, we will dance with him, we will be happy,’ she said.

“Born [in] Zarnow, Poland, Kristal moved to Lodz in 1920 to work in his family’s candy business. He continued operating the business even after the Nazis forced the city’s Jews into a ghetto, where his two children died. In 1944, he was deported to Auschwitz together with his wife, who was murdered.

“In 1950, he moved to Haifa with his second wife and their son, working again as a confectioner. In addition to his son and daughter, Kristal has many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

Kristal was quoted as saying: “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. There have been smarter, stronger and better-looking men than 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.”

Well wishes arrived.

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