World’s oldest man, a Holocaust survivor in Israel, dies at 113
Yisrael Kristal, a Holocaust survivor from Haifa who was recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest man in the world, has died, a month before his 114th birthday.
Haaretz reported that Kristal died Aug. 11.
Born on Sept. 15, 1903, in the town of Zarnow, Poland, Kristal moved to Lodz in 1920 to work in his family’s candy business. He continued operating the business after the Nazis forced the city’s Jews into a ghetto, where Kristal’s two children died. In 1944, he was deported to Auschwitz, where his wife, whom he had married at 25, was killed.
In 1950, he moved to Haifa with his second wife and their son, working again as a confectioner. In addition to his son and daughter, Kristal has numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Guiness recognized him as the world’s oldest living man in 2016.
When asked at the time what his secret was to long life, Kristal said: “I don’t know the secret for long life. I believe that everything is determined from above and we shall never know the reasons why. There have been smarter, stronger and better-looking men than me who are no longer alive. All that is left for us to do is to keep on working as hard as we can and rebuild what is lost.”
Last year, when he turned 113, about 100 family members celebrated his bar mitzvah, a century after he missed it due to the upheavels of World War I.
— JTA News and Features
He was the beloved husband of Elaine Beckman Libman; devoted father of Sheryl (Davd) Friedlander, Rachel (Seth) Berenzweig and Heather (Stuart) Kafetz. He is also survived by his grandchildren Joshua, Noah, Adam, Rafael, Sophie, Eli and Ethan.
Contributions may be made to the charity of your choice.
When Esther Ticktin’s daughter Deborah took her mattress shopping — Esther had been told by her doctor to buy a new one for her back — Esther sat on a mattress and tears formed in her eyes.
She was thinking about the victims of a recent tsunami “who had no home, no beds of their own anymore,” she told her daughter.
“That was who she was,” said her other daughter, Ruth Ticktin.
Esther Ticktin, a Holocaust survivor, longtime Washington resident and therapist, died Friday. She was 92.
Well-known for decades of dedication to the Fabrangan chavurah since she and her husband of 70 years, Rabbi Max Ticktin, who died at 94 last year, moved to Washington in 1972, she also was committed to the people and issues that were near and dear to her heart.
“She was very warm and very welcoming,” said Ruth Ticktin. “And she was very passionate about issues important to her.” She had great empathy for people in need, especially refugees, her daughter said.
She was born Esther Kelman in 1925 in Vienna. She was 13 when Hitler annexed Austria in 1938 and her life, as she shared in a memoir in 2012, changed drastically. She and her brother were barred from school and her family was later evicted from their apartment. She watched life get more difficult for Jews, but trusted in her parents to get them to safety.
“I lived with all this wonderful life, receiving and giving love. … Now it’s all supposed to be over,” she had written in her diary in July 1938. “Gone are all the joys and everything really. … We want to get away, absolutely far away from here. As of now we have no news from America. We will probably go there and then we too will be refugees.”
Unlike a lot of her friends at the time who were sent away by their parents to safety, her father wanted the family to stay together. He was able to get them visas to Belgium, where they lived for about a year before they were sponsored by her father’s cousin in New York. They came to the United States in 1940.
“I know she is considered a [Holocaust] survivor, but she was always quick to say, ‘We escaped,’” Ruth Ticktin said.
In the United States, she met Max Ticktin, and by the end of 1945 they were married and embarked on an “extraordinarily close 70-year relationship filled with tenderness, respect and constant companionship,” Rabbi Gilah Langner said in a eulogy.
The couple moved to Jerusalem for about a year in 1947 to study. The state of Israel was coming into being with Arab forces descending upon the nascent country, and the couple joined the Haganah, a precursor to the Israel Defense Forces.
Her mother was always supportive of Israel, Ruth Ticktin said, but she and Max were careful to give their money to organizations like the New Israel Fund so that it would be supporting issues they cared about and not the settlements.
Returning to the United States, the Ticktins followed his job as a rabbi for Hillel, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to the University of Chicago, before landing in Washington.
During that time, in her 40s, Esther Ticktin decided to get her doctorate in psychology at the University of Chicago, and she practiced as a psychotherapist for many years.
The Ticktins were “intellectual seekers,” Langner said, who “brought so much love and thoughtfulness into all of our lives.” In an interview she conducted with them in 2000, she called them “the heart and soul of the Fabrangen havurah.”
“Esther, we have so missed you these last years of your illness, and we will miss you all over again now,” Langner said during the eulogy.
She is survived by her brother, Herbert Kelman (Rose), daughters Deborah McCants (Blair Goodman) and Ruth Ticktin (Eric Rome), 11 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. In addition to her husband, a daughter, Hannah, preceeded her in death.
The family requests that memorial donations be sent to Fabrangen Tzedakah Collective, c/o Goldman, 4530 38th St. NW, Washington, DC 20016.
Johanna Jutta Neumann
Johanna Jutta Neumann (née Gerechter), of Silver Spring, died on April 26. She was 86.
She was born Dec. 2, 1930, to Alice and Siegbert Gerechter in Hamburg, Germany. In 1939, after failed attempts to obtain United States visas, Neumann and her parents escaped to Albania, where they were welcomed and protected as guests in the homes of Albanian-Muslims. Neumann remained in Albania throughout the war until freed by the allies in 1945. She then went to the United States, where she met her love, David. They married on June 1, 1952. They had four children, 14 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.
While living in Boston, she was active at the Young Israel of Brookline. She managed the nursery school, while raising her children. In 1969, Neumann and family moved to Haifa, Israel, where she worked for the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology. She also taught students in preparation for Jewish conversion.
In 1990, the Neumanns returned to the United States and lived in Silver Spring, where she was an active member of the Woodside Synagogue Ahavas Torah.
Neumann worked for the American Technion Society, managing the Washington office, and later joined the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum as a volunteer. In 2005, she joined the Planned Giving Department and volunteered with Survivor Affairs, sharing her story at events around the United States and around the world. As part of her speaking engagements, she teamed up with ADAMS, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, as a means to inspire others toward coexistence.
Neumann authored an autobiography, “Escape to Albania,” published in English, German and Albanian. The book describes her childhood experiences during the war spent in Albania, surviving under Italian and German occupation, protected by Albanians. In connection with her survival in Albania, she participated in several documentaries including “BESA: The Promise.”
For her book and work on behalf of the Albanian people, the city of Durrës bestowed Honorary Citizen upon her. She was also honored by the city of Tirana and by the Albanian president.
Neumann volunteered to promote the Stolpersteine Project. The organization has placed over 61,000 stumbling stones across Europe as a memorial to Jews and other victims who were deported and exterminated during World War II.
She is missed by her colleagues at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, friends around the world, and by her large and growing family. n
Martin Landau, 89, Oscar winner and ‘Mission: Impossible’ star
Martin Landau, a versatile actor who won an Academy Award for the 1994 film “Ed Wood” and played a spy on TV’s “Mission: Impossible” in the 1960s, has died.
Landau died July 15 at the UCLA Medical Center of “unexpected complications” from surgery several days earlier, his publicist told media outlets. He was 89.
He won his Oscar for best supporting actor playing the fading horror film star Bela Lugosi in “Ed Wood,” a Tim Burton film. He had been nominated several times in the same category before snagging the award.
Landau’s career took off after his appearance in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 film “North by Northwest.” He appeared for three seasons as agent Rollin Hand on “Mission: Impossible” until 1969, when he and his actress wife, Barbara Bain, left over a contract dispute.
He resurrected his career in 1988 with a role in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Tucker: The Man and his Dream,” for which he won a Golden Globe Award for best supporting actor, and then starred in Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors” in 1989.
Landau reportedly turned down the role of Mr. Spock on the NBC series “Star Trek,” which went to another Jewish actor, Leonard Nimoy.
—JTA News and Features
Levi Strauss heir Bill Goldman killed in crash of private plane
William (Bill) Sachs Goldman, the scion of a prominent family of Jewish philanthropists in San Francisco and himself a board member of the New Israel Fund, died in a crash of his private plane.
Goldman, 38, was piloting the single-engine craft when it crashed shortly after takeoff July 13 from an airport in Sonoma, Calif.
His two children and their nanny were on board; all were seriously injured. The children’s mother, San Francisco attorney Serra Falk Goldman, was not on the plane.
Goldman was the grandson of the late Jewish philanthropist Richard Goldman and his wife, Rhoda, who was the great-grandniece of Levi Strauss, the founder of the famed blue jeans manufacturer.
His grandparents established the Goldman Environmental Prize, often referred to as the “Green Nobel.” Before closing at the end of 2012, their foundation was among the original funders of Taglit-Birthright Israel and supported religious pluralism, environmental causes and social justice in Israel. It also contributed the lead gift in a project to rebuild the San Francisco Jewish Community Center.
The New Israel Fund, of which Goldman was a board member, supports civil and human rights organizations in Israel.
“Bill Goldman was a deeply beloved friend, board member, and part of the New Israel Fund family,” Daniel Sokatch, the philanthropy’s CEO and a personal friend, said in a statement. “Bill was fiercely dedicated to the New Israel Fund’s work to promote democracy and equality for all Israelis. His vision, idealism, and sharp sense of humor sustained us all. Our thoughts are with his family, and especially his children.”
Goldman was an assistant professor of international studies at the University of San Francisco, where he specialized in early modern Spanish history, foreign policy and political thought. He earned his master’s degree and doctorate in history at the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree in history at Yale.
He grew up in Washington, the son of Richard Goldman and Susan Sachs Goldman.
He also served on the board of directors of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, a family foundation that supports economic security, education, Jewish life and the arts in the San Francisco Bay Area. Walter and Elise Haas were his maternal grandparents.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.
—JTA News and Features
Alice Baum, of Gaithersburg, died on July 4.
She was the loving wife of Howard Baum; devoted mother of Allen (Stacy) Baum and Sarah Baum and adored grandmother of Samantha and Benjamin Baum. Contributions can be made to the Brandeis National Committee. Arrangements by Sagel Bloomfield Danzansky Goldberg Funeral Care.
Lauri Sue Weisberg Goldberg
Lauri Sue Weisberg Goldberg, of Rockville, died on June 29.
She was the beloved mother of Joseph “Joey” Harrison Goldberg; loving daughter of Gail and Charles Weisberg; beloved granddaughter of the late Norma and William Lewis and Lillian and Harry Weisberg; treasured sister of David Weisberg (Rikki Hommel) and Michael Weisberg (Elizabeth Goldberg); aunt of Marti, Oscar, William and Henry Weisberg. She is also survived by grieving family and friends.
Contributions may be made to a charity of choice.
Lillian ‘Libby’ Titlebaum Kaner
Lillian “Libby” Titlebaum Kaner, of Rockville, died at her home on June 8. She was 89 years old.
She was the beloved wife and best friend of 58 years of the late Melvin Kaner. She was the much-loved mother of Ellen and Bill Bresnick of Potomac, Paul Kaner of Sharon, Mass., Debbi and Bob Goldich of Blue Bell, Pa., and Michael and Barbara Kaner of Newtown, Pa. She was the adored “nana” of Bethany (Bresnick) and Jay Spector, Sara (Bresnick) and Adam Tennen, Matthew Goldich and Robyn Weinstein, Russell Goldich, Mitchell Goldich, Shelly Kaner, Stephanie Kaner, Jason Kaner and Joshua Kaner and the late Max Steven Kaner. She was also the cherished “GG” of Jordyn, Micah, Rylie, Blake, Liam and Graham. She was also the daughter of the late Sarah and Myer Titlebaum of Dorchester, Mass., and the sister of the late Eliot Tanner, Melvin Titlebaum and Ruth Glincher.
Kaner was an active member of Sisterhood for more than 65 years, a life member of Hadassah, a member of Eastern Star and a former president of the Parent’s League of Hebrew College. She was employed by the Beth Israel Hospital as a purchasing agent of medical and surgical supplies. She also worked for the Department of the Navy during World War II.
Contributions may be sent to Torah Fund, 3080 Broadway, New York, NY 10027; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 450 Brookline Ave., Boston, MA 02215 or the Pennsylvania chapter of the FIDF.
Stanley Marks, of Bethesda, died on July 4.
He was the beloved husband of Carol Oritt Marks and the late Dale Holtzman Marks; devoted father of Scott (Lori) Marks, Rick (Lori) Marks and Rob (Cara) Marks; loving brother of the late Martin Marks; cherished grandfather of Dana, Alec, Danielle, Melissa, Jamie and Darren. Contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or the Dale Holtzman Marks Memorial Fund at the Lombardi Cancer Center. Arrangements by Sagel Bloomfield Danzansky Goldberg Funeral Care.
Jack Ratz, of Brooklyn, N.Y., died on July 2. He was 91 years old.
Ratz was the son of Moses and Tema Ratz, of Riga, Latvia.
Ratz was forced into labor by the Nazis and persisted through insurmountable trials over 44 months in captivity. After liberation, Ratz studied radio engineering in a German displaced persons camp and emigrated to the United States with $7 in his pocket.
He was a successful, entrepreneurial television repairman whose clients included celebrities and politicians. Later, he became an engineer and foreman for the New York City Transit System; he also taught night courses at multiple City University of New York campuses.
Ratz was a pillar of his community serving several terms as the chairman of the board of his synagogue, Flatbush Park Jewish Center. He was also a speaker and author whose autobiography, “Endless Miracles,” has been a staple of local high schools’ graduations as a gift to graduates.
Jack Ratz is survived by his children, Tevy (Toby) Ratz of North Bellmore, N.Y., Judy (Sidney) Fine of West Hempstead, N.Y., and Dr. Jeffrey (Pearl) Ratz of Woodmere, N.Y.
He is also survived by his grandchildren, Tracy Ratz of North Bellmore, Erin Ratz of Brooklyn, N.Y., Sarah Fine of Queens, N.Y., Elena Fine of Jerusalem, Aaron and Brian Fine of West Hempstead, Tara Ratz of Teaneck, N.J., Avery Ratz and David
Ratz of Israel, and Matthew Ratz of Washington.
He is predeceased by his wife, Doris Whittenberg.
Lois Sacks, of North Bethesda, died on July 2.
She was the loving wife of David; devoted mother of Darrin Sacks (Beth Dickhaus) and Jill (Jim) Hammerschmidt. She was the cherished sister of Dr. Gerry (Ellen) Resnick and Jay Resnick (Judy Sarubin); and the adored grandmother of Sophia, Emma and Zac Hammerschmidt.
Contributions may be made to Jewish Social Services Agency (JSSA Hospice) or Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Arrangements by Sagel Bloomfield Danzansky Goldberg Funeral Care.
Edith Landau Ziskind
Edith Landau Ziskind, of Alexandria, died on June 24 at Alexandria Hospital.
Ziskind was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1922. She and her family fled their home upon Adolf Hitler’s annexation of Austria.
In the wake of the 1938 Munich Pact, Ziskind fled across Nazi Germany to the Baltic port of Danzig, from which she traveled by ship to France. Caught in the subsequent Nazi-led/French occupation government assisted “Raffle” (round-up) of Parisian Jews, she pleaded with the Parisian authorities to allow her family a delay in being sent to the suburban Paris Roland-Garros/Drancy station for deportation to Auschwitz and other concentration camps.
Granted the exception of a delay, she and her family used the opportunity to escape to unoccupied Vichy, France. She and her family hid in a local family’s home to escape deportation. Betrayed by their landlady, Ziskind and her family had to flee a fourth time by seeking passage across the Alps to refuge in Switzerland on New Year’s Eve, 1942.
Once resettled, she was able to be trained as a concierge for Swiss luxury hotels, completing the equivalent of an associate’s degree in the field. On the Riviera after the war, she met her future husband, Samuel Ziskind, an American soldier.
The couple settled in Alexandria, Va., in 1955, where Samuel was managing editor of the Army’s magazine “Army Digest.” She spent 18 years in the Alexandria Public Schools, serving much of that time as assistant to the principal of Barrett Elementary School.
She is survived by her husband of 70 years, Samuel, of Alexandria; a son, Burton Leslie, also of Alexandria; and a daughter, Michele Jonas, of Merion, Pa.; seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren in the United States and Israel.
Contributions may be made to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Organization for Rehabilitation and Training (ORT), or Agudas Achim Congregation. Funeral arranged by Jefferson Funeral Chapel.