Photo courtesy of the Israel Tourism Ministry
Is Oma Ella Israel's oldest tourist?
Photo courtesy of the Israel Tourism Ministry
Tourist celebrates 104th birthday with trip to Dead Sea
Four years after deciding to mark each birthday in a difference place in the world, Eleonore Maria Theresia Kastner arrives in Israel with friends and family for 104th anniversary celebrations
Eleonore Maria Theresia Kastner, known affectionately as Oma Ella (German for Grandma Ella), celebrated her 104th birthday in a Dead Sea hotel this week in the presence of about 40 friends and family who traveled with her to Israel for the occasion.



Four years ago, aged 100, Oma Ella decided the time had come to "live a little", and celebrate each birthday in a different place in the world, together with her family.


Oma Ella has kept her word, celebrating her centenary at the Vatican and subsequently in Monaco (101), Austria (102) and Munich (103).


Oma Ella, a devout Christian, has visited and prayed at Christian holy sites in the country, even traveling on a donkey to reach an isolated monastery in the Judean desert.


On her birthday, representatives from the Tourism Ministry presented her with a silver-bound Bible and a certificate of appreciation, nominating her as an ambassador of good will for tourism to Israel.


Oma Ella at her 104th birthday celebrations, holding a silver-bound Bible, a gift from the Tourism Ministry, and a handmade doll in her likeness, wearing the clothes in which she was christened (Photo courtesy of the Tourism Ministry)


Kastner, who was born in 1910 in Kelheim Germany, is thought to be the oldest person to tour the Himalayas and meet with the queen of Bhutan, the oldest member of the Eurovision Club that travels to every competition and whose oldest member has a Facebook page, which she has already updated since arriving in Israel with a video greeting.


She also appears in YouTube videos celebrating with youth at beer festivals in Germany, enjoying fairground rides and dancing to contemporary music.


Oma Ella began her working life as a hairdresser at the age of 17. At 19, when she inherited a significant amount of money from an aunt, she donated funds to repair the roof of her local church. Eighty-one years later, aged 100, she was invited to celebrate her birthday in the church where the roof remains intact to this day.


After her wedding in 1932, Oma Ella went to live in Amberg, Bavaria, where she raised four children, only one of whom is still alive. Her elder brother, who was born in 1906, was murdered in the Dachau concentration camp in 1943 after resisting the Nazi occupation.


Kastner has six grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild – many of whom joined her in her celebrations in Israel. Today, she lives with one of her grandsons, Joe Kastner, and his family, in Berlin.


And her secret for longevity? "Be healthy and enjoy a sweet schnapps every day!"



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