Documentary 'Above and Beyond' Tells the Story of American Jews Behind Israel's Air Force

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
IAF transport planes during an Independence Day fly-over, April 26, 2012.Credit: Avi Scharf

"Above and Beyond," a documentary currently being screened at a number of film festivals, looks at the American Jews who through feats of derring-do created Israel's air force and flew key missions that enabled the nascent state to defeat the invading Arab armies and start on its way.

"Above and Beyond" was produced by Nancy Spielberg, the sister of the director Steven Spielberg. She's produced films including "Elusive Justice: The Search for Nazi War Criminals."

The director of "Above and Beyond" is Roberta Grossman, who has produced a number of documentaries including "In the Footsteps of Jesus."

"Above and Beyond" was first shown in Jerusalem last summer and in New York recently was shown in a theater for the first time. It was shot in the U.S., U.K. and Israel.

Spielberg told Newsweek that when she read the obituary of Al Schwimmer, "who some people call the godfather of the Israeli air force, I knew this had my name on it. Not to use all my brother’s projects, but it was like `Indiana Jones' and `Band of Brothers' and `Catch Me if You Can' - all rolled into one.”

Facebook page for documentary `Above and Beyond,' which tells the story of the U.S. Jews who created, and flew the first missions of, Israel's air force.Credit: Facebook/`Above and Beyond'

The New-York-born Schwimmer, the first chief executive of Israel Aerospace Industries, died in June 2011 at age 94.

He flew for the U.S. in World War II. After the war, he was approached by representatives of the Haganah, the pre-independence underground army. They asked him to help the Jewish community in British Mandatory Palestine.

Spielberg told Shalom Life that she made the film because "I felt it was such a riveting, unknown piece of history, and a great lesson in helping a brother in need.

"Also, every day we are losing this generation; the Holocaust survivors, the WW II vets - and I wanted to capture their story and in essence capture and preserve their history for all of us to share."