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Story of French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany Subject of “Synagogue Scholars” Book Discussion by UAlbany Professor Emerita Martha Rozett

B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation resumes its “Synagogue Scholars” series with a discussion led by Professor Emerita Martha Rozett of Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany by Marthe Cohn with Wendy Holden Friday, Jan. 12, at the synagogue, 420 Whitehall Road, Albany, immediately following the congregation’s 7 p.m. Shabbat service.

The service and program, open to all who wish to worship and learn, will be in person (weather permitting) and via Zoom.  For Zoom link, contact the B’nai Sholom office.

Published in 2002 and still in print, Behind Enemy Lines tells the story of how Cohn, a remarkable and courageous young French woman fluent in German, served as a spy for the French First Army in the final year of World War II.  Slipping behind enemy lines disguised as a young German nurse seeking information about a fictional German fiancé, she gathered information from sympathetic or unwitting Germans and then rode her bicycle back across the border to report on troop movements to the French intelligence service.

Today, Cohn is an astounding 103 years old and the subject of a delightful 90-minute 2019 documentary “Chichinette: The Accidental Spy.”  Chichinette (“little pain in the neck”) was the nickname the French Army intelligence gave to their small, persistent, lively colleague.

A Shakespeare scholar and professor emerita at the University at Albany, Rozett is the author of When People Wrote Letters: A Family Chronicle (The Troy Book Makers, 2011), a story told through family letters and autobiographies about the travels and careers of her mother and great aunt and about a romance threatened by the differences between New England Episcopalians and New York Jews.  Rozett holds a doctorate in English from the University of Michigan.

Begun in 2004, the “Synagogue Scholars” series spotlights individuals in the Capital Region Jewish community who are recognized authorities in their fields.  Next up:

  • Sunday, Feb. 25 – SUNY Orange Community College professor and B’nai Sholom congregant Mary Warrener will discuss whether William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice is an antisemitic play or a play about antisemitism.

For more information, visit or contact the B’nai Sholom office: or 518-482-5283.

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