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The World's Oldest Man Replaced Bitterness with Sweetness

On August 11, 2017, the world's oldest man passed away, just a month short of his 114th birthday—making him one of the 10 longest lived men since modern record keeping began. If you knew nothing else about him than this, you might expect to discover that he had led a peaceful life, free of fear, grief, and danger.

The truth is the opposite. The man in question was Yisrael Krystal, a Holocaust survivor. Born in Poland in 1903, he survived for years in the Lodz Ghetto, and was then transported to Auschwitz. In this ghetto, his two children died. In Auschwitz, his wife was killed. When Auschwitz was liberated, he was a walking skeleton weighing a mere 82 pounds. He was the only member of his family to survive.

He was raised as a religious Jew and stayed so all his life. When the war was over, with his entire world destroyed, he married again, this time to another holocaust survivor. They had children. They moved to Israel and centered in Haifa, there he began again, setting up in the confectionary business, as he had done in Poland before the war. He made sweets and chocolate. He became an innovator. If you have ever had Israeli orange peel covered in chocolate, liqueur chocolates shaped like little bottles, and covered with silver foil, you are enjoying one of the products he originated. Those who knew him said he was a man with no bitterness in his soul. He wanted people to taste sweetness.

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