Brooklyn, NY - Worldâ€™s Most Senior Jewish Person Dies At The Age Of 113
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.”
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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