2015-08-19 / Home

Nancy Spielberg comes to AC for ‘Above and Beyond’ screening

By ELLEN WEISMAN STRENGER
Voice shore correspondent


NANCY SPIELBERG NANCY SPIELBERG Yes, she’s Steven Spielberg’s sister. But Nancy Spielberg, a documentary filmmaker who was recently in Atlantic City for a Jewish Federation of Atlantic & Cape May Counties-sponsored screening of her newest film, “Above and Beyond,” at Rodef Sholom synagogue, shines far too brightly to stand in her older brother’s shadow.

She is also incredibly warm and personable, said Joyce Bank, a longtime shore resident and administrator for Beth El Synagogue in Margate, who got to know Spielberg during the production of “Above and Beyond,” a documentary about a handful of Jewish-American fighter pilots who helped establish the Israeli Air Force in 1948. One of those fighter pilots was Bank’s uncle, Coleman Goldstein.

Like most of the people who attended the Rodef Sholom screening, Bank had been unaware that the Israeli Air Force, which helped turn the tide in Israel’s War of Independence, was created largely by volunteer fighter pilots from around the world, including a number of Jewish-American pilots that included her “Uncle Collie.” Bank, her sisters, and her extended family knew Goldstein as a beloved and devoted family man who was also a pilot for El Al. “My father died when we were really young, so Coleman took over…There was nothing he wouldn’t do for us.” Yet he never considered himself to be a hero. “He was not the type to brag,” noted Bank.


Nancy Spielberg at the Atlantic City screening of her film, “Above and Beyond,” with nieces of the late Coleman Goldstein, a fighter pilot featured in the film and uncle of Beth El of Margate synagogue administrator Joyce Bank. At the event were (from left), Lois Grossman, Shelley Mills, Robin Otto, Nancy Spielberg, Joyce Bank and Bobi Silva, a cousin. Nancy Spielberg at the Atlantic City screening of her film, “Above and Beyond,” with nieces of the late Coleman Goldstein, a fighter pilot featured in the film and uncle of Beth El of Margate synagogue administrator Joyce Bank. At the event were (from left), Lois Grossman, Shelley Mills, Robin Otto, Nancy Spielberg, Joyce Bank and Bobi Silva, a cousin. In “Above and Beyond” (currently available on iTunes, Netflix and Amazon), Spielberg shines a light on the heroic actions of Goldstein and a handful of other Jewish-American fighter pilots— now well into their later years— who came together as a band of brothers to defend Israel. The story of how these pilots smuggled planes to Israel and served in the newly formed Israeli Air Force, even though the U.S. government had expressly forbidden helping Israel, is told through oncamera interviews with the pilots, Israeli leaders, and others, along with wartime and period film footage.

Born in Camden, NJ, Spielberg lived briefly in Haddonfield before moving to Arizona, to what she described as “a very non-Jewish, unfriendly environment,” where the people next door called her family “dirty Jews.”

Spielberg said that while listening to the pilots talk about anti-Semitism, she remembered her brother getting beat up for being Jewish and how uncomfortable she felt about being Jewish due to all the negativity and hostility she encountered.

It wasn’t until she began attending UCLA—“which people called ‘Jew-C-L-A”—that she recalled starting to feel comfortable being Jewish and embracing her identity. Shortly after that, she and her sister even went on to live on a kibbutz for six months.

Ironically, Spielberg’s father, rather than her brother, was the family member who offered her the most inspiration and guidance throughout her work on the film. “A lot of this I did for him and he guided me a lot. I added something to his life—he’s so proud!” said Spielberg.

Bank said she’s grateful to the Jewish Federation, which presented the “Above and Beyond” movie event with the help of a generous bequest from the late Lena and Morris Kellerman and their family. According to Federation Executive Director Kirk Wisemayer, 270 people attended the Rodef Sholom screening of “Above and Beyond,” which included a cocktail reception with Nancy Spielberg prior to the movie as well as a question and answer session with her and dessert reception following the screening..

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