‘Above and Beyond’ Tells Story of Founding of Israeli Air Force

A new documentary film about the establishment of the Israeli Air Force was released this past weekend. “Above and Beyond” has gotten some rave reviews.

From director Roberta Grossman, the documentary tells the story of how In 1948, just three years after the liberation of Nazi death camps, a group of Jewish American pilots answered a call for help. In secret and at great personal risk, they smuggled planes out of the U.S., trained behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia and flew for Israel in its War of Independence. As members of Machal – “volunteers from abroad” – this ragtag band of brothers not only turned the tide of the war; they also embarked on personal journeys of discovery and renewed Jewish pride.

The American volunteers included Milton Rubenfeld, Pee-wee Herman’s father, and Harold Livingston, who wrote “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” Herman is interviewed about his father and Livingston says in the movie, “The idea that Jews were going to fight, I found exciting. It was about time.”

The movie was produced by Nancy Spielberg, Steven’s sister.

The New York Post gave it 3 out of 4 stars.

The Hollywood Reporter said, “Although it features a combination of archival and recreated footage — the latter accomplished with special effects created by Industrial Light and Magic — the film’s heart is the interviews with the pilots themselves who recall their exploits with infectious bravado.” And, “Above and Beyond pays well-deserved homage to these men who helped create the Israeli Air Force and ensured the survival of the burgeoning nation. It’s a wonder that it took nearly seven decades for the story to be recounted in feature documentary form.”

Movie Nation said, “It’s fascinating, hearing from these still-swaggering flyboys and their descendants, one of whom reads his dad’s mission debrief from a 1948 crash. Having crashed a German plane, surrounded by armed Jews, wearing a Luftwaffe surplus flight suit and not speaking the language, Milton Rubenfeld just shouted the names of every Jewish food he knew to keep his captors from shooting him — “Matzo! Gefilte fish!”

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