A Father’s Shadow A Father’s Shadow

There is a lot of pain in the fact that I never got to meet the man” In May 1948, the late First Lieutenant Daniel Buckstein was killed in a plane crash above the mountains surrounding Jerusalem. Four months later, his daughter, Daniela, was born. This year, Daniela will place a wreath at the top of the “Pilots’ Mountain”. 66 years after her father’s death, Daniela talks about life in the shadow of the father she never knew

Noa Fenigstein

On May 10th, 1948, a Norseman plane took off from the Sde Dov airbase for an assault mission on the gates of Jerusalem. First Lieutenant Daniel Buckstein, a squadron commander who started out as a transport pilot and slowly transitioned to more combat missions, went out with five additional crew members in order to attack the compounds of Arab forces blocking entrance to the city. Witnesses reported seeing a plane circling above an Arab village and then a big explosion in the sky. To this day, it is not clear how the plane and its six crew members crashed. Debris from the plane was found later on and a monument was erected nearby. To this day, the monument which is called “Pilot’s Mountain”, serves as a place to mourn the fallen heroes of the IAF.

The late Daniel Buckstein was survived by his parents, brother and 24-year-old widow. Four months after his death, his widow gave birth to his daughter, whom she named after him and who never got to meet him. This Memorial Day, for the first time, Daniela Ben Yaakov, together with her mother Bruriah, will place a wreath at the top of “Pilots’ Mountain”, in memory of her father, 66years after his death. “For years, we refused to take part in the ceremony. We felt grief was a private matter. My mother never even agreed to be recognized as an IAF widow because she didn’t want others involved in her grief”, explains Daniela. “But this year, for the first time, the issue became very important to her and she agreed. She wanted to honor the memory of her husband, who was the love of her life”.

In The Shadow of A Hero

The loss of her father is intertwined with her life, despite not ever having met him. The stories of her father and the grief felt by her family created memories and longing for a person she had not ever met. “When I was in first grade, a kid came up to me and showed me a picture of my father in a Ministry of Defense book”, recalls Daniela. “That’s a moment that I will never forget. I couldn’t avoid it. My father was a hero and everyone agreed”.

After Daniel’s death, his father, Yaakov, founded “One Man Commemoration Project”, explains Daniela. The walls of his house were covered with pictures of his son and every year prizes were awarded in his son’s name: at Habima Theater, the Israeli Opera, The Aviation Club and many other awards. “My grandfather dedicated his life to his memory”, she adds. “I opposed this type of commemoration. For me, the stones and the pictures don’t say anything. I keep the memory of my father and the grief inside of me.

My life has been shaped by my father. Apparently, he was a man of great stature and so my feelings of loss and pain are strong, despite never having met him. There is a lot of pain in the fact that I never got to meet the man, who apparently was a wonderful man”.