By Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
JERUSALEM – The world’s oldest man has lived through two world wars and survived the Auschwitz concentration camp. Last weekend, 113-year-old Israel Kristal finally celebrated his bar mitzvah — a hundred years later than most Jewish males.
Jewish coming-of-age ceremony celebrated when a boy turns 13 and passes into adulthood — because of World War I.
Kristal’s daughter, Shulamith Kuperstoch, told the BBC that his children, grandchildren and nearly 30 great-grandchildren gathered over the weekend in Haifa, Israel, for the ceremony. Draped in a prayer shawl, Kristal was surrounded by his family as he recited the traditional Jewish prayer of gratitude.
“Everyone sang and danced around him. He was very happy,” Kuperstoch told NPR. “It was always his dream to have a bar mitzvah and he really appreciated the moment.”
Kristal was orphaned shortly after World War I and moved to Lodz to work for his uncle in the confectionery business. During the Nazi occupation of Poland in World War II, he was sent to Auschwitz and other concentration camps. His first wife and two children were killed in the Holocaust.
Kristal survived and married another Holocaust survivor. He moved with her to Israel in 1950 where he built a new family and a successful confectionary business.