Alexander Imich, who officially became the world’s oldest man in April, passed away on June 8 at age 111.

Born in Poland in 1903, Imich had lived on New York City’s Upper West Side—in the same apartment—since 1965. He was honored by the New York State Senate last year, on his 110th birthday.

He reconnected with his Judaism a few months ago, thanks to a number of visits from Rabbi Pinny Marozov, who co-directs Chabad of Coney Island in Brooklyn, N.Y., with his wife, Chaya.

Upon learning of Imich’s passing, Marozov said “it’s very significant. The last few months were his last in this world. He lived to 111. When you hear of someone living to 100 or 105, it’s huge. And he could have gone on even longer.”

Back in April, Imich’s home attendant told the rabbi he thought Imich could live for another couple of years; that’s how well he was doing.

Marozov noted that “in the last few months, he had the opportunity to put on tefillin multiple times, to eat matzah, to have a mezuzah—to impact so many at the end of his life. People were uplifted by his story; they visited him, showed ‘love of a fellow Jew.’

“I feel there is a connection. He passed away now, after G‑d gave him the merit to do all those good things. He wasn’t connected his whole life, but these last few months, he was. His soul was waiting for that. His soul was waiting for him to perform this mitzvah.”

The rabbi first met Imich in the hospital back in February, where the older man was recovering from a fall in his apartment. After Imich was released, an ensuing visit to his home had the rabbi affixing a mezuzah to Imich’s doorway and helping the senior citizen don 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 saw him again just before Passover and brought him some handmade shmurah matzah, noting that Imich “was very happy to see me. He remembered me. He looked good.” They also wrapped tefillin together.

Imich earned a Ph.D. in chemistry. He survived the Holocaust, spending two years in a Russian labor camp near the White Sea. In 1951, he immigrated to the United States with his wife, Wela, who passed away in 1986.

He spent his career working as a chemist, ultimately trying to prove to other scientists that the neshama, the soul, survives physical death. In 1995, at the age of 92, Imich edited and published a book called Incredible Tales of the Paranormal about his theory.

Imich and his wife had no children.