Centennial Bar Mitzvah – The Celebration of a Holocaust Survivor

When KNI posted this article in January, some important paperwork had not yet been found for the extreme longevity of 112 year-old Holocaust survivor, Yisrael Kristal, to be officially recognized. Two months later, Guinness World Records officially verified the claims and awarded the supercentenarian with the title of ‘Oldest Living Man in the World’.  

Born on September 15, 1903, Kristal just had his birthday according to the Gregorian calendar, but a bigger and more significant celebration is on the horizon. On October 2, according to the Jewish calendar, Yisrael will turn 113 and plans are underway to mark the coming-of-age ceremony – the Bar Mitzvah – a tradition dating from the 14th century that is observed by Jewish boys when they turn 13 .  

Some may ask if the first time wasn’t enough for the oldest living man in the world, but the truth is that this will not be a repeat performance for Mr Kristal. One hundred years ago, sad circumstances in Yisrael’s family during the First World War prevented him from observing the ritual.  

Yisrael, who is very devout in religious observance, most certainly became a man without the traditional ritual. He saw and survived many unspeakable things that no child, youth or adult should have witnessed and experienced. To his credit, he also achieved, accomplished and overcame many challenges. But, it is this one extremely important event in his life that has remained unsaid and undone for 100 years that the world record holder and his family feel is necessary to observe.

According to his daughter Shula Koperstoch who granted the BBC an interview, she believes this will be a corrective experience for her father. She said, “We are excited, we’re happy, it is a great honor to celebrate his bar mitzvah which will happen in two weeks. He has children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and cousins and everyone is coming.”

Not only does Yisrael Kristal hold the title of being the oldest man alive today, he will be now be able to add the title of oldest bar mitzvah to that.  

We wish Mr Kristal a very happy 113th birthday and good health to celebrate his long-delayed Bar Mitzvah!