A Holocaust survivor’s 111th birthday was celebrated in an exceptional manner – Israeli soccer stars came to share his proud and happy moment. They were the ones to leave inspired.     

Yisrael Krysztal has seen and experienced much in his 111 years of life. Born in Poland to a family that owned a candy factory, he lost both parents during World War I when he was only 11 years old. He was married when the Holocaust began and was deported to the Lodz Ghetto with his wife. In 1944 he was sent with his wife to the Auschwitz Death Camp, where she was murdered.

After the Holocaust he re-established his family business and brought his know-how to Israel when he made Aliyah in 1950.

Krysztal celebrated  his 111th birthday on Monday, earning him the title of the oldest living Holocaust survivor in the world. He received an especially delightful surprise when two of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s soccer stars, Barak Yitzchaki and Eden Ben-Basat, showed up to celebrate with him and his daughter Shulah, bearing a cake and balloons.

They were deeply moved to hear Krysztal’s life story and presented him with a team shirt with the number 111 printed on it. Mitch Goldhar, the team owner, called to wish him well from Canada, saying: “We can’t comprehend what you have suffered, but we are inspired by your bravery and spirit.”

Krysztal, on his part, wished them luck in all their games.

Source of Inspiration and Pride

“We were deeply moved by the event,” Ben-Basat said. “There is no greater honor [than] to celebrate with someone so special who has experienced such adversities and yet still remains with a big smile and a broad heart. Yisrael serves as a source of inspiration in all aspects, a role model who provides us with optimism in life.”

Yitzchaki added that he was inspired by the party and left with great hope.

“When I gave Yisrael the team hat and scarf, I told him he was the real champion,” he said. “I left the party with a powerful sense of hope and pride. Without a doubt, celebrating with Yisrael his 111th birthday was one of the most touching moments I have ever experienced. I thank Yisrael and his family for hosting us, for his broad and excepting heart.”

Author: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer: United with Israel