Home World Age, 113, no bar to bar mitzvah

Age, 113, no bar to bar mitzvah

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This file photo taken on January 22, 2016 shows Yisrael Kristal sitting in his home in the Israeli city of HaifaImage copyrightAFP/Getty
Image caption Mr Kristal will celebrate the occasion with several generations of his family

The world’s officially oldest man is to finally have his bar mitzvah at the age

of 113 – a century after he missed it due to the outbreak of World War One.

Yisrael Kristal, who lives in Israel, will celebrate the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony with family and friends in a synagogue in Haifa, his daughter said.

Shulamit Kuperstoch said it would be a “corrective experience”.

Mr Kristal was born in Poland in 1903 and survived being in the Auschwitz death camp during World War Two.

Image copyrightAFP/Getty
Image caption Mr Kristal survived Auschwitz death camp, where the Nazis killed more than a million people, mostly Jews

He was recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest man in March this year.

Mr Kristal turned 113 on Thursday, according to the Gregorian calendar. He will mark his bar mitzvah in two weeks’ time, coinciding with his birthday according to the Hebrew date.

Ms Kuperstoch told the BBC her father would perform the traditional bar mitzvah rituals, including putting on phylacteries (small boxes containing biblical verses worn on the head and arm) and saying blessings over the Torah (Jewish holy book).


Image copyrightAFP

What is a bar mitzvah?

  • Jewish male coming-of-age ceremony, held when the boy turns 13 according to the Hebrew calendar
  • Bar mitzvah boy is “called up” in synagogue to read in Hebrew either a portion or the entirety of a segment of the Torah
  • After bar mitzvah, the boy is considered mature enough to assume religious obligations
  • Can take place later in life under certain circumstances

Read more about Judaism


“They will bless him and sing with him and dance with him and give out candies,” she said.

“We are excited, we’re happy, it is a great honour to celebrate his bar mitzvah. He has children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and cousins and everyone is coming.”

Mr Kristal should have had his bar mitzvah in 1916, but his mother had died three years earlier and his father had been drafted into the Russian army.

He was cared for by an uncle and after WW1 moved to the Polish city of Lodz to work in the family confectionery business.

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Jewish worshippers wear phylacteries (or tefillin) during morning prayers

After the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany in 1939, Mr Kristal and his family were moved into the Lodz ghetto.

His two children died there and Mr Kristal and his wife Chaja Feige Frucht were sent to Auschwitz in 1944, where his wife was murdered.

Mr Kristal survived and emigrated to Israel in 1950 with his second wife and their son.

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