Former Mossad agent Shulamit Cohen-Kishik, a true heroine of Israel, passed away at age 99 and was laid to rest Sunday (May 21) at the Har HaMenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem.
Born in 1920 in Buenos Aires, “Shula” Cohen was raised in Jerusalem, and at age 16 was married to Joseph Kishik, a wealthy businessman from Beirut who took her back with him to Lebanon. By the time she was 24, Shula Cohen-Kishik had given birth to five children.
Just three years later, she began working for the Mossad – which gave her the code name “The Pearl” – and spent the next 14 years helping to bring persecuted Jews from Arab countries to Israel and gathering gathering intelligence about Lebanese military activities.
She was caught the first time smuggling in 1952, and imprisoned for 36 days.
Nine years later, Cohen-Kishik moved to Rome for three months to evade discovery – but upon her return she was immediately arrested for espionage. This time she was brutally tortured during the months of her trial, and upon her conviction she was sentenced to death by hanging. Upon appeal, however, the sentence was dialed back to 20 years’ hard labor.
Cohen-Kishik finally returned to Israel following the 1967 Six Day War, during which Israel had captured a number of Lebanese citizens. These were used in a prisoner swap to rescue Cohen-Kishik and a captured Israeli pilot.
Shula Cohen-Kishik continued to volunteer at schools and IDF bases from that point forward, and in her later years lived peacefully in the hareidi-religious Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim. At age 89, she was one of 12 guests of honor who lit a torch in the nation’s torch-lighting ceremony at Mount Herzl that marked the end of Memorial Day and the beginning of Israel’s 59th Independence Day.
Baruch Dayan HaEmet.