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Am Yisrael Chai!

I love this: [1]

Yisrael Kristal, like many a bar mitzvah boy before him, celebrated the event last weekend, reading the Torah and enjoying the company of his family, who danced, sang and threw candies.

But Mr. Kristal was surrounded at the ceremony in southern Israel by his two surviving children, nine grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren. He is 113, and he had to wait a century to mark the occasion.

“My father is a religious man, and it was his dream his whole life to have a bar mitzvah,” his daughter Shulamith Kristal Kuperstoch said by telephone from her home in Haifa, Israel. “It was a miracle after everything that he has been through in his life. What else can you call it?”

When Allied troops liberated Auschwitz in 1945, she said, Mr. Kristal weighed 82 pounds. He was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust.

His family says Mr. Kristal is a simple man who has prayed every day of his life. More:

Mr. Kristal’s granddaughter Liat Bashan, a 32-year-old social worker, said that seeing her grandfather at his bar mitzvah ceremony, in a room spilling over with relatives and loved ones, had left her overcome with joy — and mindful of all those who perished in the Holocaust.

“All those people from one person,” she said. “Imagine how many rooms could be filled if six million had lived.”

She added: “Every time I see my grandfather, I want to make a blessing.”

Read the whole thing. [1] It is a blessing to humankind. The darkness did not overcome this man’s light, nor steal God from his heart.

8 Comments (Open | Close)

8 Comments To "Am Yisrael Chai!"

#1 Comment By Pogonip On October 7, 2016 @ 9:00 am

Why did he have to wait 100 years?

#2 Comment By Mark On October 7, 2016 @ 9:50 am

My guess is that bar mitzvah celebrations take place when one turns 13. Quite an achievement to reach 113 years of age.

#3 Comment By To Life! On October 7, 2016 @ 10:57 am

Congratulations to Mr. Kristal! It’s heartening to learn that his faith is as long-lived as he is. He still has a way to go to set a new record for male longevity. Here’s hoping he gets there – and beyond.

#4 Comment By mrscracker On October 7, 2016 @ 11:11 am

Pogonip says:

Why did he have to wait 100 years?”
It’s a great article, but I was wondering why it didn’t explain that, too?
Lovely story anyway. God bless him.

#5 Comment By Franklin Evans On October 7, 2016 @ 11:18 am

He wasn’t made to wait, my friends. If you read the brief account of his life, you might safely assume that life matters combined with not being in a strong religious community sort of conspired along the way. He clearly enjoyed life and his life, and my personal speculation is that he didn’t see it as something missing until much later, when age overtook how active he could be.

It should be noted and emphasized that preparation for the bar or bat mitzvah is a serious and long-term undertaking. In a conservative synagogue with a strong Hebrew education curriculum, my children undertook a two-year period of focused preparation, from learning to read the Hebrew Torah, understanding the words (my elder daughter, talented as well, became fluent in both ancient and modern Hebrew), and working with the rabbi and cantor to demonstrate a rational understanding of the meanings and subtleties of the text.

The age of 13 is the traditional coming-of-age point. I don’t know of any branch of Judaism that considers it the only opportunity.

#6 Comment By Elijah On October 7, 2016 @ 11:36 am

L’chaim! A wonderful celebration.

I was acquainted with a Holocaust survivor and his wife – we did business together and both bred Vizslas. Once a lady who was buying a puppy from one of their litters asked Laszlo if it wasn’t terribly difficult to give up the puppies.

He went on a bit of a rampage, culminating in “When you’ve lost your entire family in Auschwitz – every last one of them! – this is nothing.”

Thank God Mr. Kristal’s faith still burns bright.

#7 Comment By Viriato On October 7, 2016 @ 12:39 pm

“The darkness did not overcome this man’s light, nor steal God from his heart.”

Indeed, this is a heartening, touching story.

I have a very bad temper. I tend to lose my head over the most trifling little things. One day, someone noticed this behavior, accosted me, and told me something that a Holocaust survivor once told him: “Whatever it is that’s bothering you today, chances are that a year from today you won’t be able to remember it. So don’t let it get to you!” So true! And to think that someone who experienced Hell on Earth could nonetheless say that!

I still have a hard time operationalizing this sage advice. I keep trying…

But the advice serves to illustrate the sheer strength of character that is required to survive something like the Holocaust.

#8 Comment By Hound of Ulster On October 8, 2016 @ 8:05 am

This is the Best Story Ever, Period 🙂