(JTA) — It’s official: Yisrael Kristal, a 112-year-old Holocaust survivor and Israeli citizen, is the world’s oldest living man.
Guinness World Records confirmed Yisrael Kristal’s status on its website last Friday.
In January, JTA and other media reported that Kristal, who survived Auschwitz and the Lodz Ghetto, was likely the world’s oldest man, but that it would not be made official until he presented documents from the first 20 years of his life.
The head of records for Guinness, Marco Frigatti, personally delivered a certificate to Kristal’s home in Haifa last Friday, according to the organization’s website.
“Mr. Kristal’s achievement is remarkable — he can teach us all an important lesson about the value of life and how to stretch the limits of human longevity,” Frigatti said.
After receiving the certificate, Kristal said: “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.”
His daughter Shula Kuperstoch told Agence France Press: “It’s a privilege [to have reached this age] and I’m very happy and he’s happy too.”
Born on Sept. 15, 1903, in the town of Zarnow, Poland, Kristal moved to Lodz, Poland, in 1920 to work in his family’s candy business. He continued operating the business after the Nazis forced the city’s Jews into a ghetto, where Kristal’s two children died. In 1944, he was deported to Auschwitz, where his wife, whom he had married at age 25, was killed.
Kristal weighed just 81 pounds at the end of World War II, according to Koperstoch.
In 1950, he moved to Haifa with his second wife and their son, working again as a confectioner.
Kuperstoch told The Jerusalem Post in January that her father has been religiously observant his whole life and continues to lay tefillin each morning.
“The Holocaust did not affect his beliefs,” Kuperstoch said. “He believes he was saved because that’s what God wanted. He is not an angry person, he is not someone who seeks to an accounting, he believes everything has a reason in the world.”
“His attitude to life is everything in moderation,” she added. “He eats and sleeps moderately, and says that a person should always be in control of their own life and not have their life control them, as far as this is possible.”
Guinness World Records was assisted in the research and verification of Israel’s world record by the Gerontology Research Group and Jewish Records Indexing – Poland.
The previous oldest man, Yasutaro Koide of Japan, died in January at 112. The oldest woman alive is Susannah Mushatt Jones, who is 116 and lives in Brooklyn, New York.