Daily Israel Report

Spy Eli Cohen ‘Ate Matzah in Damascus’

Famed Israeli spy Eli Cohen managed to eat matzah on Passover while high in the Syrian elite, his widow says.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 4/6/2012, 2:06 PM

Nadia Cohen
Nadia Cohen
Flash 90

Israeli spy Eli Cohen managed to eat matzah on Passover even while deeply enmeshed in life among the Syrian elite, his widow Nadia told Arutz Sheva.

Nadia explained that she had just heard the story of Eli’s Passover observance recently. “Just now two people from Syria told me that [Eli] knew that there were Jews in the marketplace. He would watch them from afar, then go and ask to taste some of the matzah,” she said.

“He didn’t want them to know he was Jewish, so he would say, ‘Let me taste some of that thing that you eat only on your week of holiday,’” she explained.

Eli Cohen managed to infiltrate the top ranks of Syrian leadership, and used his status to gather valuable security information, which he sent to Israel. The reports he sent were invaluable in helping Israel take the Golan during the Six Day War, two years after he was caught and executed.

Passover had a special meaning for the Cohen family, Nadia related. “Eli came to Israel from Egypt, he made aliyah in 1956,” she said.

The family has found a measure of comfort in the decades since his death, she said. “For many years there was a lot of sadness, we felt that the ground had fallen out from beneath our feet,” she recalled. “But slowly, slowly the family expanded, there are children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren… This year we will celebrate the holiday at my daughter Sophie’s house, we will keep smiling.”