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The Promise of a Holy Day




Yitzhak Zuckerkandel - Jerusalem


~ an eternal memorial to the Pinter Family of Bukowsko ~


In my native city of Bukowsko in the district of Sanok, Galicia, Poland, lived a limping coachman. He wore a yellow beard and was named Yosef Shimon Pinter. He worked very hard transporting goods with his exhausted horse in both the snowy winter and in the blistering heat of the summer.


There also lived a large family that had a daughter named Lea. She was very capable and had nice manners, but occasionally went into hysterics.  When such an event took place, everything within reach was smashed or tossed to the ground. She was nicknamed "The Meshugeneh Lea" or crazy Lea.


On the eve of Yom Kippur, the cantor was about to commence the famous "Kol Nidrei" prayer at the Sandzer synagogue in Bukowsko. The people waited and the Holy Ark was open when Lea rushed into the prayer hall going straight to it. She was hysterical and carried on beyond belief.  Nobody wanted to interfere or stop her and she continued to scream and shout. The congregation was dumfounded, petrified and silent.


Nobody dared to act except for Yosef Shimon, the coachman. He approached Lea and told her to leave the prayer hall and to join the women in their section in the synagogue. She replied that she would carry out his wish on the condition that he would marry her. He promised to marry her and she left the Holy Ark and the main prayer hall, as requested.  


The congregation appreciated Yosef's deed for he had enabled it to commence the holiday services on the holiest day of the year. Of course, Yosef Shimon did not take his promise seriously since he was merely interested in getting Lea out of the hall.


However, the Rabbi felt differently and told Yosef Shimon that a promise in front of the Holy Ark and the entire congregation just prior to the commencement of the holiday must be fulfilled. Furthermore, he gave him a blessing namely "fulfill your promise and G-d will help you".


Yosef Shimon married Lea and their lives took a turn for the better. He started to deal in business and was very successful. He built a large house in the center of the city. They had 4 handsome and successful sons and a daughter.


The youngest son, Aaron, studied with me at the yeshiva "Etz Chaim" in Bukowsko. Lea Pinter distributed daily baskets of food to the needy of the city. She still experienced hysterical attacks that could be heard from behind closed shutters.


 In September of 1939 WWII began and the Germans conquered Poland. The Germans pauperized the Jewish population of the city, but Yosef Shimon managed to continue some of his businesses and assisted the Jewish population as best as he could.


On the 21st day of the month of Elul, Tashab, (September 3rd 1942) all the Jews of Bukowsko were ordered to assemble prior to their deportation to the death camp of Belzec. The police commandant of Bukowsko promised Yosef Shimon that he would save him and his family from deportation, if he handed over his money. They agreed and the Pinter family was not deported.


Three days following the deportations of the Jews of Bukowsko, the same police who received the money took the entire Pinter family (including the oldest son, his wife and son) to the Jewish cemetery.  Here they killed the oldest son of Yosef Shimon and Lea Pinter along with his family.


The next day, the performance was repeated and the Germans shot the 2nd son. On the third day, Lea was killed and in the succeeding days, they killed the 3rd son and the daughter.


They then took Yosef Shimon and his youngest son, Aaron, to the cemetery where they killed the father. But, the son managed to avoid death by jumping over the cemetery wall fence. He took a bullet in his leg, but managed to move on and reach the forest where he joined other Jews. His injuries healed in spite of the many hardships of forest life.


I was sent to the labor camp of Zaslaw and then to the Trepcza* camp. We worked daily on the roads. One day I saw an opportunity and took my chance. I disappeared into the forest where I eventually joined other Jews, including Aaron.


We roamed the forests and lands of Slovakia and Hungary in the hope of reaching the Romanian border. Romania was leaving the war and thousands of people were crossing the border illegally. Aaron, also, tried to cross the border, but was shot by a Romanian border guard. He was twenty-five years old when he died.  I crossed the border on the day when the Russians and Romanians signed a truce.


Following the holiday of the Sukkot of 1945, I reached Palestine and settled in Jerusalem. I have never left the city and have since been blessed with a beautiful family.


To this day my heart goes out to the Pinter family who was so special and generous. Nobody survived from this family. I remember them especially on the eve of Yom Kippur when the cantor is about to recite the "Kol Nidrei" prayer.


May the above story be an eternal memorial to this family.


Yitzhak Zuckerkandel ~ Jerusalem


* Trepcza was located 2 kilometers from Sanok. The German company " Kirhof" was located at this forced labor camp.



Yosef Pinter was born in Bukowsko in 1882

Lea Pinter nee Merkel* was born in Bukowsko to Naftali and Matl in 1884 (Naftali is listed as living in home #45 (this home was later re-numbered to #389)

To see the Spis, go to: http://www.shtetlinks.jewishgen.org/Bukowsko/Spis.htm ) *alternate spelling - Markel


Their Children:

Avraham Pinter – Married – born in 1916

Eliyahu Pinter – Single – born in 1917 (surname listed as “Punter” on Yad Vashem)

Moshe Pinter – Single – born in 1919

Rivka Pinter – Single – born in 1920

Aaron Pinter – Single – born in 1921


(all Pinter Family members listed above perished in 1942)


Sources: Yad Vashem – Pages of Testimony

                Yitzhak Zuckerkandel, Jerusalem



Yitzhak Zuckerkandel’s speech at the dedication of the Martyrs of Bukowsko Monument - Mount Zion Memorial Cemetery - Jerusalem, Israel in 1946 can be read at the link below.

Source: Sanok Memorial (Yizkor) Book ( Scroll down to Page 597 – Commemoration of the martyrs of Bukowsk” )



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