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The oldest man in the world could be an Israeli Holocaust survivor aged 112, scientists have said. The family of Yisrael Kristal was reportedly contacted by US researchers following the death of a 112-year-old Japanese man earlier this week.
An email sent to Kristal's grandson from the US-based Gerontology Research Group, an international body that tracks people 110-years-old and above that works with the Guinness World Records, said Kristal was now a candidate for the title. The previous holder of world's oldest man, Yasutaro Koide, of Japan, died on 19 January, just two months short of his 113th birthday.
When he was first told the news, Kristal reportedly told Haaretz: "The joy of my old age."
But he faces a challenge in verifying the claim as he'll be required to provide concrete proof in the form of official documentation. His family says he holds a marriage certificate from the 1920s but it's not certain if this will be enough. He has already been named in media reports as the world's oldest Holocaust survivor following the death of London-based Alice Hertz-Sommer in 2014.
Kristal was reportedly born in 1903 in the town of Zarnow in Poland to a religious Jewish family – a year in which Stalin joined the Bolsheviks in Tsarist Russia, Ford produced its first ever car and King Edward VII was made British Emperor of India.
He moved to Lodz, Poland, to work in his family's sweets business when he was 17-years-old, a job that was interrupted when the city was made into a ghetto by the Nazis during the Second World War. After losing his two sons, he was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944 aged 40, where he managed to survive but lost his wife.
In 1950, he moved to Haifa in the newly established state of Israel with his second wife and their son, where he continued making confectionery.
After being crowned world's oldest man, Japan's Koide credited his longevity to abstinence from alcohol and cigarettes. But in a 2012 interview for Haaretz, Kristal gave no such advice, instead saying: "It's no great bargain. Everyone has their own good fortune. It's from heaven. There are no secrets."
His daughter, Shula Kuperstoch, told The Jerusalem Post her father has kept his faith throughout his life, adding: "The Holocaust did not affect his beliefs. My father is someone who is always happy. He is optimistic, wise, and he values what he has.
"His attitude to life is everything in moderation. He eats and sleeps moderately, and says that a person should always be in control of their own life and not have their life control them, as far as this is possible."
He remained religious throughout his life, puts on tefillin and prays every day, reciting the prayers off by heart as his eyesight is poor.
"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," Kuperstoch added .
The current oldest living person is an American woman, 116-year-old Susannah Mushatt Jones of Brooklyn, New York. The oldest person ever recognized by Guinness was France's Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122 years and 164 days.