Photo Credit:
Yehudit Huebner at an Emunah Women’s concert in her honor in October of 2013.

Yehudit Huebner is an elegant, gracious 94-year-old lady, who can truly rest on a rich array of laurels. Apart from her many years at the helm of Emunah as Chairman and President, Ms. Huebner served as Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Interior as well as Israel’s Ambassador to Norway and Iceland. As if all this had not been enough, she also functioned as Vice Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem. For all these accomplishments, Ambassador Huebner was honored with the “Religious Zionism” award and the distinction of being “Yakirat Yerushalayim.”

Yehudit Winkler was born in 1921 and grew up in Vienna. At an early age she was exposed to anti-Semitism. “When I went to school at the age of six, I sat next to a little girl whom I became friendly with. I helped her with schoolwork and shared my food with her. One day she asked if it was true that I was Jewish, and when I replied in the affirmative, she said that she could not sit next to me anymore because her father told her that all Jews are dirty dogs,” she recalled. Anti-Semitism became more virulent after Hitler annexed Austria in 1938. Posters appeared on the streets saying, “Jews, go to Palestine.”


Yehudit had been involved with the Zionist youth movement since she was 13 and with the “Palestina Amt,” the Jewish Agency’s office in Vienna responsible for handling applications for entry to Palestine. In 1939, with life getting harder for Jews, she and several friends decided it was time to make aliyah, and applied at the Palestina Amt for permits. Only a few categories of people were permitted to make aliyah, among them were farm workers and students.

She fell into the student category and received a certificate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in August 1939, enabling her to leave Austria as a student. Her father was already in Buchenwald, her mother and 9-year-old sister were unable to join her; they did not fall into any of the categories for entry into Palestine. Nevertheless, her mother encouraged her to go.

“I left on November 9, 1939 with a group, among the last Jews to leave Vienna. My mother brought my little sister to the train station. She clung to me and cried, ‘Don’t go – take me with you.’ In 1941 my mother and sister were deported to Lodz. I never saw them again,” Yehudit Winkler recalled with a muted sob.

In Jerusalem Yehudit lived in a student hostel where she shared a room with two other girls. Soon after arrival she was ready to start her studies at the university. “I wanted to study law but at that time there was not yet a law faculty at the Hebrew University,” she explained. “Instead, I studied history and psychology for two years. In 1957 the law faculty opened and I completed my law studies in 1961.”

In 1942 at a friend’s house, Yehudit met Yitzchak Huebner, whose father was also killed in Buchenwald. Their mutual source of sadness created a bond between them; they were married a few months later, when she was 21.  Yehudit trained to become a dietician and worked in various institutions, eventually being appointed deputy head of nutrition at Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus.

“During the 1948 War of Independence, Yitzhak joined the Hagana. I wanted to join as well, but they would not accept married women – I was also pregnant. But I wanted to help in the war effort so I joined Mishmar Ha’am [People’s Guard] and, pregnant or not, I learned to shoot.” After the war, motherhood to daughter Mira did not prevent her from filling a number of political positions.

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