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How American Pilots Helped Win Israel's Independence

Last year, Rabbi Eckstein wrote about a documentary by Nancy Spielberg about those who helped Israel win her independence. Today, as the people of Israel celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, we invite you to watch an extended trailer for the newly released film, and read this fascinating article about the brave Jewish-Americans who helped the Jewish state to victory 67 years ago:

On May 30, 1948—fifteen days after the fledgling Jewish state was invaded by the armies of five Arab nations—Milton Rubenfeld, a former stunt pilot who served in the British Royal Air Force and the U.S. Air Force in World War II, flew on a critical combat mission that stopped the advancing Iraqi army.

When his plane was hit by enemy fire, he bailed out, landing in the field of an Israeli kibbutz. Since no one at the time knew that Americans were flying for Israel in its War of Independence, Rubenfeld was mistaken for an enemy pilot by the rifle-brandishing kibbutz members. Hands raised in the air, Rubenfeld—who spoke not a word of Hebrew—identified himself to the Israelis and saved his life by shouting what little Yiddish he knew—“Gefilte fish”, “Shabbos”, and “Pesach”!

This little-known true story is recounted by Rubenfeld’s widow and his son, the actor Paul Reubens (better known as Pee-wee Herman), in a remarkable new feature-length documentary Above and Beyond.

Produced by Nancy Spielberg (sister of Steven Spielberg—yes, that Spielberg) and directed by the accomplished Roberta Grossman, the 87 minute film tells the fascinating tale of the American airmen who, just three years after the liberation of the Nazi death camps, volunteered with Rubenfeld in the 1948 war.

Above and Beyond” has won rave reviews and multiple awards on the festival circuit. Opening on January 30, it’s been screening to admiring audiences nationwide…

…as Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) notes, the “outrages of the Holocaust” surely also compelled them to “fight for what they knew was a just cause”.

“What changed me was knowing what Hitler did,” says one of the nine former pilots interviewed.

“I was an American, but Jews were going to fight. It’s about time,” says another.

Tags: Video , US-Israel Relations

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