NAME: Ravdel, Yehudit

LEHI ALIAS: Avigayil

DATE OF BIRTH: February 5, 1926

DATE OF DEATH: June 13, 2000

Yehudit was born in Bulgaria on 5.2.1926. Her parents Yitzhak and Julie named her Victoria (Vicca). Her sister was Moni. The home was traditional and Zionist. She studied in a Jewish school, and at age thirteen, she joined Beitar in Sofia. She made aliyah in 1944, as part of the Youth Aliyah, and she was sent to Kfar Maccabi, where she changed her name to Yehudit.

During one of her visits to Haifa, she met a Beitar friend who revealed to her that most of their comrades were in the IZL or Lehi. She made the decision to join the latter, as she identified with that path to banish the British. One night, she secretly left the kibbutz and moved to Haifa. She lived in a tiny one-room apartment, and she worked as a cleaner in the workers’ kitchen to support herself.

At first, she would put posters and put fliers in mailboxes. One time, a British soldier caught her, but she was so fragile and skinny that she managed to pass herself off as a lost girl, and he let her go.

Her first operation was waiting by a field on the way to Kfar Ata, where she waited for the young men carrying out the operation. They tossed her the weapons, and she hid them until the truck came to retrieve it.

Her primary operation was the Haifa Railway Workshops attack. Yehudit’s job was to obstruct the road by spreading out a makeshift barbed-wire fence across it and to hide mines along its length (next to which they put warning signs). The operation was successful, but as the fighters retreated, British armored vehicles cut off their escape and opened fire with submachine guns and rifles. Eleven fighters were killed and eight injured, including Yehudit, both of whose hands were wounded.

Twenty-two operatives were caught and tried. They demanded recognition as prisoners of war, and once the judges rejected this, the operatives refused to participate, singing throughout the entire proceeding. The four young women were sentenced to life imprisonment, while the eighteen young men were sentenced to death by hanging. The latter sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Until the State was established, Yehudit remained in Bethlehem Women’s Prison.

After the British left, the prisoners were moved to Petah Tikva and liberated by Lehi. When the war ended, Yehudit joined the group of former Lehi members who set up the settlement of Neve Yair in the Negev. She met Zalman Ravdel and married him. They moved to Tel Aviv, where she worked as special-education teacher and librarian in many of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. They had two children, Ariella and Rami.

Yehudit passed away on 13 June 2000.

Join our mailing list