Mary Rothstein, Australia’s oldest Jew, has died at age 110.
Rothstein died Tuesday afternoon at an aged-care facility run by Jewish Care in Melbourne.
She was the second-oldest Australian and was believed to be the second-oldest Jew in the world after Evelyn Kozak of New York City, according to Robert Young, a senior researcher at the U.S.-based Gerontology Research Group, which specializes in verifying centenarians and supercentenarians.
Born in Russia, Rothstein and her family escaped the pogroms to England soon after she was born in 1901. She had no birth certificate, so she was not named in the world’s 89 validated living supercentenarians listed by the Gerontology Research Group.
Rothstein lived in London for half her life, working as a milliner making hats for the royal family, before immigrating to Australia.
Rothstein’s daughter, Ruth Cavallaro, who visited her mother twice daily since she was moved into the aged-care facility 17 years ago, told JTA, “I’m numb, it hasn’t actually hit me. I don’t know what I’ll do with my time. She was a wonderful mother, very good to her grandchildren and loved her great-grandchildren. It’s very sad that this era has gone.”
Cavallaro said her mother only ate in kosher restaurants and used to walk to synagogue every Saturday until she was moved from her home.
As for her secret to her long life, Rothstein’s daughter said on her mother’s 110th birthday in March, “The only thing I can honestly say about her is she never drank, never smoked and never swore. And she worked very hard.”
Along with her daughter, Rothstein is survived by two grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.