(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 on March 11. In January, it was reported that Kristal 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.
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.”
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 his daughter, Shula Kuperstoch. 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.”