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Brooklyn, NY - World’s Most Senior Jewish Person Dies At The Age Of 113

Published on: June 12, 2013 10:00 AM
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FILE - Dr. and Mrs. Brum visiting with Mrs. Kozak on her 113th birthday, August 2012.FILE - Dr. and Mrs. Brum visiting with Mrs. Kozak on her 113th birthday, August 2012.

Brooklyn, NY - Funeral services were held yesterday for the world’s oldest living Jewish person, a Brooklyn resident who died Tuesday morning at Maimonides Medical Center.

Evelyn Kozak was 113 years old at the time of her death and just 64 days shy of her 114th birthday.  Mrs. Kozak is credited with having been the seventh oldest person in the world and the oldest verified Jewish person in history.

“She was really something special,” granddaughter Sury Polon told VIN News.  “Every person that met her came away with a smile.  She had a special cheyn.  She was my bubby, everyone’s bubby.”

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Mrs. Kozak, a grandmother of ten and great grandmother of many more, was known for her sharp mind and her incredible vocabulary.

“She did the New York Times crossword puzzle every day until I don’t know what age,” said Mrs. Polon. “We played Scrabble with her when she was over 100 and she would beat all of us.”

Yet according to her granddaughter, it was Mrs. Kozak’s warmth that drew people to her like a magnet.

“She had a good word for everyone and always saw the good in everyone,” explained Mrs. Polon.  “I saw with my own eyes that when she had aides helping her she would refuse to eat until the aide ate. She was always concerned about where the aides would sleep.”

The daughter of Isaac and Katie Jacobson, Mrs. Kozak was born on August 14, 1899 and was one of nine children.  The Jacobsons, who lived on the Lower East Side, were an affluent family and were well known for their acts of kindness.

“Bubby’s mother used to wear a five carat earring in one ear, a five carat earring in the other and a ten carat diamond necklace,” reported Mrs. Polon.  “One Erev Shabbos she was cooking and there was a knock on the door.  The visitor said ‘Mrs. Jacobson, your kosher butcher said you could help me.’  Bubby’s mother invited the guest in, and observing how tired she looked, called the maid to draw a bath for her, sent her upstairs to rest and then fed her an entire meal.  When the meal was done, Bubby’s mother asked how she could help and the visitor took out a metal instrument, an axe or maybe a crowbar? She said ‘I am part of a gang and I was sent here to kill you and take your diamonds.  But you are so kind, I can’t,’ and the visitor ran out the door.”

Mrs. Kozak received a bracha for good health and long life from the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, after falling seriously ill.  Devoted followers of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Jacobsons picked the Rebbe up from the port when he arrived in America and Mrs. Kozak’s family believes that it is no coincidence that she passed away on the yahrtzeit of the most recent Lubavitcher Rebbe.

“It could have happened any day, but the fact that it happened today was such a nechama for us,” said Mrs. Polon.

Despite their affluence, the Jacobsons were hit hard by the depression.

“They lost everything and Bubby worked hard her whole life,” recalled Mrs. Polon.  “She never kept anything for herself, always wanting to give away her possessions to others.  If you told Bubby her sweater was pretty she would offer to give it to you.”

Mrs. Kozak, who was married twice, had five children and spent over fifty years as the operator of a Miami Beach inn called The Blue Wave.

“The people who lived there were older people and they didn’t have anyone else,” said Mrs. Polon. “Even when Bubby was in her 90’s she cooked for them and cleaned for them.”

After leaving Miami Beach, Mrs. Kozak moved to Pittsburgh and on her 110th birthday in 2009, the Pittsburgh City Council issued a proclamation designating the day as Evelyn Kozak Day.  Mrs. Kozak relocated to Brooklyn in January 2010, after suffering a stroke, moving in with her granddaughter Bracha Weisberger.

“When she had the stroke we came running to see her and they hadn’t even taken her to the hospital and we insisted that they treat her,” said Mrs. Polon.  “They said ‘She is 110, this isn’t what she would have wanted.’  But it was.  She was happy to be here to inspire people and we would tell her that just by being alive she was an inspiration and a true Kiddush Hashem.”

Still looking ahead to life at the advanced age of 111, Mrs. Kozak asked family members to find her a suitable husband.  Eager to help Mrs. Kozak in her quest, family members identified a potential candidate, age 115.

“We asked her what she thought and she responded, ‘He is too old. I don’t want to be alone in my old age,’” recalled Mrs. Polon.  “Then she thought about it and reconsidered.  But he lived in Eretz Yisroel so it didn’t work out.”

Even in her later years, Mrs. Kozak still took pride in her appearance and favored a particular shade of pink nail polish for her manicures.

“I used to ask her “Bubby how do you have such beautiful skin?’ and she would reply, “Just a bar of soap and water,” said Mrs. Polon.  “People didn’t believe her when she told them how old she was and wanted to see her birth certificate as proof.  She loved it.”

Once asked the secret of her longevity by a janitor in Maimonides, Mrs. Kozak tapped her heart and replied, “a good conscience.”

Following a levaya at Shomrei Hachomos in Borough Park, Mrs. Kozak was buried in Washington Cemetery on Bay Parkway.  According to Mrs. Polon, the last time anyone was buried in that particular section of the cemetery was approximately thirty years ago.

“She had mentioned a few times that she wanted to be buried next to her parents but they told us there was nothing left.  Somehow they managed to find one plot, between her parents and her mother’s parents.  Hashem saved this last spot, just for her.”


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Read Comments (19)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jun 12, 2013 at 10:09 AM Babishka Says:

What a great story!

2

 Jun 12, 2013 at 10:15 AM ohaiv-yisroel Says:

beautiful... Baruch Dayan Emes... thank you for sharing

3

 Jun 12, 2013 at 10:35 AM Anonymous Says:

I feel truly touched by this heartwarming biography. And, on this site, this is a rare occurence indeed.

4

 Jun 12, 2013 at 11:06 AM picklesauce Says:

Wow! Wonderful Story! Dr. Brum is an amazing DR, he does house calls only, what a nice person!

5

 Jun 12, 2013 at 11:17 AM victorg Says:

Maybe not _the_ oldest ever... Avraham was 175, Yitzchok 180 etc.

6

 Jun 12, 2013 at 11:42 AM FriendlyAtheist Says:

Beautiful! She lived a wonderful and meaningful life and her memory will live on through her loved ones.

7

 Jun 12, 2013 at 12:07 PM murray059 Says:

more stories like this, please.....instead of abortion pill and nutty iranians.

8

 Jun 12, 2013 at 12:17 PM TannaKamma Says:

"Mrs. Kozak is credited with having been the seventh oldest person in the world and the oldest verified Jewish person in history."

How does that match up with the fact stated later in the article that she was suggested a shidduch with someone living in Israel age 115. Was he not Jewish??

9

 Jun 12, 2013 at 01:15 PM maxedout Says:

Reply to #5  
victorg Says:

Maybe not _the_ oldest ever... Avraham was 175, Yitzchok 180 etc.

If you want to get technical, Avraham and Yitzchok were not yet "Jews". We became "Jews" after Har Sinai.

10

 Jun 12, 2013 at 02:27 PM TannaKamma Says:

Reply to #9  
maxedout Says:

If you want to get technical, Avraham and Yitzchok were not yet "Jews". We became "Jews" after Har Sinai.

OK, so Moshe and Ahron both surpassed this record...

11

 Jun 12, 2013 at 02:34 PM mewhoze Says:

Baruch Dayan Emes. What a beautiful article

12

 Jun 12, 2013 at 03:09 PM Wise-Guy Says:

Reply to #8  
TannaKamma Says:

"Mrs. Kozak is credited with having been the seventh oldest person in the world and the oldest verified Jewish person in history."

How does that match up with the fact stated later in the article that she was suggested a shidduch with someone living in Israel age 115. Was he not Jewish??

C'mon! Figure it out!

He might have passed away a few months later, and she might have moved up to 7th place only recently.

This is a heartwarming bittersweet story.
It's bitter because, after all, she was still 6 years shy of 120.
And, in a different perspective, she lived to almost 114, and yet she STILL didn't make it to the days of Moshiach!

Imagine if, when she was born, an angel would have told a local Tzaddik, (or any good Jew for that matter,) "I have good news and I have bad news:
The good news is, this child will live to almost 114 with her mind functioning well and in relatively good health!
The bad news is, Mashiach will still not have arrived.

The listener would have died of grief...

Boruch Dayan Ha'Emess.

13

 Jun 12, 2013 at 02:13 PM The_Truth Says:

Reply to #8  
TannaKamma Says:

"Mrs. Kozak is credited with having been the seventh oldest person in the world and the oldest verified Jewish person in history."

How does that match up with the fact stated later in the article that she was suggested a shidduch with someone living in Israel age 115. Was he not Jewish??

I think it means she was the oldest Jew alive at this time, and that he has already died. (This shidduch was suggested 2 years ago.)

BTW, A Japanese man recognized as the world's oldest living person, has died today aged 116.

14

 Jun 12, 2013 at 03:52 PM 5TResident Says:

She outlived Yosef HaTzaddik, who only lived to be 110 - she must have had some zchus.

15

 Jun 12, 2013 at 09:16 PM Dr seth lapin Says:

I had the honor of being one of her doctors and learned from her and the family that one should not give up hope despite what science and medicine teach us.She was an inspiration for all klal yisrael and hope to use my experience with her to help other patients.Boroch dayan haemes.

16

 Jun 12, 2013 at 09:38 PM yoel moshe Says:

2 # 10. we r talkin abt in 2days days. Noach was 600 wen the mabul started. No 1 2day lives as long as Moshe & Aron 2day so it is a big deal. BE"H u will make it 2 120. It's interesting u mention that bec in this week's Sedra Aron passes away.

17

 Jun 12, 2013 at 11:44 PM PaulinSaudi Says:

Why do we say "Jewish person" rather than "Jew?" In headlines we try to use short words, is "Jew" no longer used in polite company?

18

 Jun 13, 2013 at 02:06 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
victorg Says:

Maybe not _the_ oldest ever... Avraham was 175, Yitzchok 180 etc.

that's what you took away from this article? that you think you "chapped" something?

what a small person you are!

19

 Jun 13, 2013 at 09:45 AM bored Says:

Loved the story. Loved the comments. But washington cemetery has somethinng fishy going on. I've been going there for decades on tisha bi'av and its was full beyond capacity. Somehow they found new plots in prime locations for russian (mafia?) types, with pictures on the tombstones & all. Now they magicaly squeeze over this ladies relatives & poof! New plot! Come on.

20

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