Haifa’s Yisrael Kristal isn’t concerned whether or not he’s the world’s oldest man. But historians and genealogists are working overtime to try and find documents to satisfy the Guinness World Records rules to prove this Polish-born Israeli Holocaust survivor’s 112 years.
The family of the retired confectionery maker says he was born September 15, 1903. Guinness World Records confirmed that following the death in Japan of 112-year-old Yasutaro Koide, Kristal may be the oldest man alive today.
Kristal has his marriage certificate from 1928 – when he was 25 years old.
But the organization that annually publishes a book of the world’s records and achievements says that in order for Kristal to receive an official World Record holder title, he must provide documentation from the first 20 years of his life.
“We have standard rules and it would be unfair on other people if we bent the rules,” Robert Young, senior consultant for gerontology at Guinness World Records, told AFP regarding Kristal’s circumstances.
After Haaretz broke the story in January of Kristal’s candidacy for world’s oldest man, the Jewish Records Index organization (JRI) volunteered to locate the required archived documents. JRI-Poland has the largest fully searchable database of indexes to Jewish vital records accessible online, with more than five million records from more than 550 Polish towns.
Kristal was born in Zarnov, then moved with his family to Lodz until the Nazi occupation. He worked as a candy maker in his family’s confectionery shop but eventually was sent to the Auschwitz death camp.
According to family statements, Kristal’s first wife perished in the Holocaust. He remarried in 1947 in Lodz, and moved with his family – his second wife and son — to Israel in 1950.
In Haifa, Kristal made a name for himself as an expert candy maker. His specialties, according to family statements, were tiny liquor bottles made of chocolate and wrapped in colored foil; carob jam; and chocolate-covered orange peels.
Kristal has nine grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren. In 2014, after the death of Alice Herz-Sommer in London, Kristal became the world’s oldest Holocaust survivor.
Haaretz reports that the JRI organization sent the death certificate of Kristal’s mother from 1910 and his marriage certificate from 1928 to the newspaper.
And while genealogists the world over are searching for documents to support Kristal’s age and get him recognized as the record holder, the man born three months before the Wright brothers took their first flight isn’t excited about the promising title. In fact, when he was told about it by a Haaretz journalist, he answered: “Big deal.”