Milton Rubenfeld was a top-gun pilot for the United States Army Air Force in World War II. But when the war ended after the surrender of Germany, Japan and the Axis powers in 1945, his peace was short-lived. Raised as an Orthodox Jew, he watched with great interest as Jewish people, many of them survivors of the Holocaust, emigrated to Palestine and established the State of Israel in 1948—an historic development that did not sit well with its new Arab neighbors. War broke out immediately after Israel declared its independence.
Rubenfeld was one of five Jewish pilots who secretly answered the call and took to the skies in smuggled fighter planes to give Israel a fighting chance against superior Arab forces. Their story is the subject of the documentary Above and Beyond, which debuts on iTunes and On-Demand today. The film was directed by Roberta Grossman and produced by Nancy Spielberg.
Rubenfeld was a war hero, but few of the people who knew him in his later years really understood what his contributions were to Israel’s birth, not even his son, Paul Reubens. Yes, that Paul Reubens: Pee-wee Herman. In this extended sequence, Reubens and his mother, Judy, describe the proud man whose “[war stories] seemed like fish stories” to Reubens, at least initially. It wasn’t until later, when Rubenfeld’s heroics were documented in a book that Reubens realized the magnitude of his father’s achievements. He was a larger-than-life figure who inevitably drew a crowd—even on the red carpet of his son’s movie premiere.