Categorized | Lighter Side, Zimmerman_Mark

Jewish trivia quiz: Black Cube

By Mark D. Zimmerman

Mark D. Zimmerman

MELVILLE, New York — Harvey Weinstein hired the Israeli intelligence company Black Cube to try to prevent publication of stories detailing his sexual abuse of women. Black Cube operative Stella Penn Pechanac duped actress Rose McGowan using an assumed name and claiming to be a women’s rights advocate. Through this subterfuge, Pechanac was able to obtain a copy of McGowan’s unpublished memoir, in order to determine whether McGowan intended to speak of her alleged rape by Weinstein. What is the interesting story about Pechanac’s family?

A. Stella’s grandparents were Muslims in Sarajevo who hid a Jewish family from the Nazis. Fifty years later, descendants of those Jews living in Israel were able to help Stella and her parents and grandmother escape the war in Bosnia and move to Israel. Stella’s Muslim mother was married to a Bosnian Christian man, but both converted to Judaism and Stella was raised as an Orthodox Jew.

B. Stella Penn Pechanac’s grandfather was among the Jews employed at Deutsche Emalwarenfabrik, the enamelware company owned by Oscar Schindler. When Schindler moved his plant to Moravia, Pechanac’s grandfather was among those on the famous “Schindler’s List” whose move to the new location enabled him to escape death at the hands of the Nazis. After the war, he was able to emigrate to Israel.

C. Pechanac’s grandfather, Eduard Fedorov, was a guard in a Moscow prison in the 1970’s. In 1977, he met Anatoly Shcharansky, the Jewish dissident who was imprisoned there, and Scharansky learned of Fedorov’s Jewish roots. Their relationship grew over the time of Scharansky’s confinement. A few years after Shcharansky was freed in a prisoner swap and emigrated to Israel (where he changed his name to Natan Sharansky), he was instrumental in helping Fedorov and his family to emigrate to Israel.

D. Pechanac is not the first member of her family to be in the spy business. Pechanac’s grandfather was Reuven Zaslani, who was born in Jerusalem in 1909, the son of a rabbi. Zaslani, who later changed his last name to the Hebrew name Shiloah, was a friend of David Ben-Gurion. In December 1949, Ben-Gurion appointed Shiloah to be the first director of the “Central Institute for Coordination,” the organization that later became known as the Mossad.

E. Pechanac is not the only member of her family to be in the business of subterfuge. Pechanac’s parents belong to an organization which opposes the granting of the first Torah aliyah to members of the priesthood, the Kohanim. This organization, known as Cohen-Troll, has begun a campaign of online lies, insults, and bullying of the Kohanim by its members, who post using online aliases. Pechanac’s father posts under the screen name Maxwell Chacham, and her mother uses the alias Agent Tishim v’Tisha.

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Zimmerman is the author of the Rashi, Rambam and Ramalamadingdong series of Jewish trivia e-books. Learn more at
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