Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Evelyn Kozak Aug. 14, 1899 - June 11, 2013 Oldest Jewish Person in the World, Formerly a Pittsburgh Resident

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Evelyn Kozak Aug. 14, 1899 - June 11, 2013 Oldest Jewish Person in the World, Formerly a Pittsburgh Resident

Article excerpt

The world's oldest Jewish person, Evelyn Kozak, whose family fled Russia to escape anti-Semitism in the 1880s, has died at age 113.

Mrs. Kozak died June 11 after suffering a heart attack the day before, her granddaughter Brucha Weisberger said. She was buried next to her parents in a cemetery in New York City.

Mrs. Kozak was the world's oldest documented Jewish person and the world's seventh-oldest person, said Robert Young, a senior database administrator at the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group, an organization of physicians, scientists and engineers who validate supercentenarians, or people 110 or older.

While a series of strokes about three years ago left Mrs. Kozak in a wheelchair and paralyzed on her right side, her mind was always sharp, Ms. Weisberger said. For the past three years, Mrs. Kozak had lived with her granddaughter and the granddaughter's husband and children in Brooklyn after a stint in Pittsburgh.

"As old as she was, we really expected her to live forever," said Ms. Weisberger, one of nearly a dozen grandchildren. "She was strong and incredible. We thought she would be going on and on and on."

Mrs. Kozak, who was one of nine children, was born on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Her family had moved from Russia to escape organized anti-Semitic attacks.

She spent much of her adult life in Miami, where she ran a boarding house for many years, fixing meals for her tenants, Ms. Weisberger said.

"Sometimes she would say, 'I always try to help everyone and not hurt anyone,' " Ms. Weisberger said. "And even when they say, 'It's not your business to help someone,' she felt that it was her business."

Mrs. Kozak believed in being truthful and honest, Ms. Weisberger said.

"She always said a good conscience was the secret to a long life," she added.

Although Mrs. Kozak had no formal religious education, she was religious, keeping kosher and observing the Sabbath. …

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