LA's Museum of Tolerance to screen professor's post-Holocaust film

July 02, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. —The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles will screen Penn State faculty member Boaz Dvir's critically acclaimed film “A Wing and A Prayer” at 4 p.m. July 22.

The event, which is included with museum admission, is part of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s commemoration of Tisha B’Av, a fasting day marking the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people.

Dvir, an assistant professor in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications and the film's director, will Skype in to introduce the film and answer audience questions immediately following the screening. 

“I’m honored to engage with members and visitors of a museum known around the world for opening our eyes, challenging our thinking, and inspiring us to make a difference,” said Dvir, who teaches writing and production.

Narrated by actor William Baldwin ("The Purge," "Squid and the Whale") and co-produced by Steve Whitney (“Amityville Horror,” “Haunting in Connecticut”), "A Wing and a Prayer" tells the story of World War II aviators who risked their lives and freedom in 1948 to prevent what they viewed as an imminent second Holocaust.

“[The film] tells the story of how a few idealists effected change despite great obstacles,” wrote The Miami Herald’s Ana Veciana-Suarez.

Named Best Documentary at the 2016 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, “A Wing and a Prayer” has screened in prestigious venues around the world, including the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan, the Columbia University Global Center in Paris, and the Library Film Festival in Jaipur, India.

The film, which aired on PBS stations around the country in 2015-17, features firsthand accounts of daring escapes and heart-pounding action. Dvir secured exclusive interviews with the operation’s leaders, including mastermind Al Schwimmer, chief pilot Sam Lewis, and Christian crew leader Eddie Styrak. Their tell-all interviews provide rich detail about a group of Jews and Christians who, driven mostly by the plight of Holocaust survivors, helped reshape history, yet have been largely forgotten by history books. 

“Boaz Dvir succeeds in bringing an obscure but signal period of history out of the shadows,” wrote 20th Century Aviation Magazine’s J.R. Hafer.

Schwimmer’s recruits thought they were done fighting after World War II ended in 1945, yet he convinced them to put their lives and U.S. citizenships on the line to give the Jews in Palestine — the only community eager to take in Holocaust survivors — a fighting chance.

Vowing to “push the Jews into the sea,” Israel’s neighbors anticipated weak opposition, since the Jewish state had a sparsely armed military, a wingless air force and no allies.

The morning after Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, five Western-equipped armies invaded. The Jews’ return to their ancient land appeared short-lived. But Schwimmer had a plan: create factitious airlines, buy and fix decommissioned transport planes, and smuggle in surplus Nazi weapons from behind the Iron Curtain.

“It means a great deal to screen this film in Los Angeles, where the operation members set up their base,” said Dvir, whose other documentaries include "Jessie's Dad" and "Discovering Gloria."

For more information about the July 22 event, email or call 310-772-2452.

  • Wing and a Prayer poster
    IMAGE: Image Submitted

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 02, 2021