lillian-gafni-largeLilian Gafni worked for the Commission on Soviet Jewry, and during the 1970s corresponded with prisoners of conscience at the height of visa denials for Soviet Jews. From that experience she has written a fascinating fictional account of Klara, a Soviet Jew who is not only denied a visa, but is sentenced to a slave labor camp in Siberia for four years. She must face backbreaking labor, grueling living conditions, and housing with convicts who threaten to rape her. Klara works hard to survive so she can return to the man she loves in Moscow.

Lilian Gafni writes with passion about the experiences of displaced Jewish populations because she experienced it herself. Born in Cairo, Egypt, in a Sephardic family, and speaking Ladino Spanish (a mixture of Castilian Spanish and Hebrew spoken for many centuries since the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492), she attended the non-denominational French Catholic School, St. Vincent de Paul. Jews had lived peacefully for centuries in Egypt; however, a dangerous current began coursing through the city that threatened the lives of Jews. They were forced to keep to their homes at night because of nightly riots in the streets.

Her parents moved the family in 1951 to the newly formed Jewish country of Israel, where they hoped to raise their children in peace and safety. As have many Jews before her, Lilian had to adapt to a new life, a new country, and a new language. She served in the requisite two years in the Israel Defense Forces, which sent her to guard a Kibbutz (collective farm) in the region of the Negev. There she met American-born Joel, who later became her husband. After their marriage, they moved to the United States to his home state of California, where they raised their two children.

Lilian Gafni earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from Portland State University in Oregon and Graduate Studies in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University in California. She wrote Living a Blissful Marriage and lectured and conducted workshops for people seeking to improve their marriages.

Hello Exile was her first book about the tribulations of Jews under the Russian oppressive regime throughout the 70s. The story is based on the life of Ida Nudel, a refusenik who was sent to exile in Siberia for requesting an exit visa to Israel. Lilian wrote the book during her 1970s work for the Commission on Soviet Jewry to help free Soviet Jews from the regime’s religious suppression.

Short Bio:
Lilian Gafni was born in Cairo, Egypt and attended the all-girls, non-denominational, French Catholic School of St. Vincent de Paul. While growing up, Lilian spoke Ladino (a mixture of Castilian Spanish and Hebrew words), a language spoken by Spanish Jews after their expulsion from Spain in 1492.

Gafni writes with passion about the traumas of displaced Jewish populations because she once was attacked because of her religion. Her family fled to the newly formed country of Israel, where she had to adapt to a new life, country and language. Gafni seeks to give voice to the thousands of victims who have been brutally silenced through the ages due to their religion and personal history.

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