Obit of the Day: World’s Oldest Jew
Evelyn Kozak died on June 11, 2013. When she passed she was 113 years and 301 days old. At the time of her passing she was the oldest member of the Jewish faith in the world - and the second oldest New Yorker^.
Born on the Lower East Side on August 14, 1899, Mrs. Kozak would marry twice and be widowed twice. She had five children (outliving two), ten grandchildren, fourteen great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
She spent most of her adult life in Miami, Florida running a boarding house for senior citizens. Working into her 90s, she was often assisting men and women younger than she was.
Following her retirement, she moved to Pittsburgh to be near her daughter. While living there she was recognized as the oldest resident of the city of Pittsburgh. The city council proclaimed August 5, 2009 to be “Evelyn Kozak Day” in honor of her 110th birthday.
A year later Mrs. Kozak returned to New York having suffered two strokes. She moved in with her granddaughter - and eight great-grandchildren all under the age of 13.
When asked for the reason for her longevity Mrs. Kozak had varied responses. She told some that it was because she had a good conscience. She told others it was because she helped people and was always truthful. She would also say it was because she walked five miles a day and avoided fatty foods. (Her family believes it was because of a blessing she received in 1929 from Rabbi Yosef Yitzhak Schneersohn, a leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch hasidic movement.)
Evelyn Kozak, who was the seventh-oldest person in the world when she died, was offered the opportunity to marry a 115-year-old Israeli man when she was 111. She turned down the offer saying ““He’s too old for me. I don’t want to be alone in my old age.”
(Image of Mrs. Kozak and Pittsburgh City Council President Doug Shields. He is presenting Mrs. Kozak with a proclamation declaring “Evelyn Kozak Day” in honor of her 110th birthday. August 2009.)
^ The oldest New Yorker, and the third-oldest person in the world, is Susie Mushatt Jones. Mrs. Jones was born on July 6, 1899 - 30 days before Evelyn Kozak.
For more on amazing supercentenarians check out the OOTD “Oldest Living People” page. Which includes a post for Jiroemon Kimura, the oldest man in recorded history, who passed away one day after Mrs. Kozak.