Oldest Man in America Fulfills Mitzvot of Tefillin, Mezuzot
At 111, Alexander Imich has been officially verified as the oldest man in America and the second oldest in the world. A resident of Manhattan who lives on the Upper West Side, he had the honor of being congratulated by the New York State Senate last year, on his 110th birthday.See also the Jewish Press from last month.
But recently, he received some more attention, as well as some unexpected help—putting on tefillin for the first time in almost 100 years, getting a mezuzah for his apartment door, receiving replacements for the much-needed hearing aids he had lost, and having round-the-clock home attendants to help care for him and new people to keep him company.
All of this was the result of a recent hospital visit by Rabbi Pinny Marozov, co-director of Chabad of Coney Island in Brooklyn, N.Y., with his wife, Chaya. The 30-year-old rabbi found out about Imich while in Seattle seeing family. A Shabbat guest suggested that he pay the elderly man a visit, though neither of them realized at the time quite how old he was, recalled Marozov.
On his return to New York, Marozov dropped in on Imich, who was in Roosevelt Hospital being treated for a fall in his apartment. Imich celebrated his 111th birthday there, on Feb. 4. He had lost both of his hearing aids at the hospital, which made communicating difficult; nevertheless, the two men connected.
He also helped Imich wrap tefillin. Marozov said he didn’t think Imich had put on tefillin since his Bar Mitzvah—nearly 100 years ago—in Czestochowa, Poland.
The rabbi returned for another visit once Imich was back home. While there, Marozov helped Imich put on tefillin once again and also affixed a mezuzah to the door leading into Imich’s apartment, where he has lived—these days, alone—since 1965.