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.

Book Secrets

I am of Sephardic descent. That means my ancestors were Spanish Jews who left Spain to live around the Mediterranean during the infamous 1492 expulsion. I grew up speaking Ladino (a mixture of Castilian Spanish and Hebrew words) in my home. The subject of Jews being forced to leave Spain under duress always intrigued me. Why did these law-abiding Spaniard Jews had to leave a land that was their home for over a thousand years?

The more I learned about the Sephardim, the more I felt close to those exiles of long ago. What thoughts, fears, and hope did they feel and experience? How did they preserve their Jewish heritage in secret? How did they escape the Inquisition-or fall into its clutches?

As I put these thoughts on paper, a whole world opened up before me. The characters, the families and the individuals directly responsible for that exodus became real and spoke in their own voices. Then the characters opened a door for me to peer inside and discover their world.

The major character, Isabella Obrigon, a sixteen-year-old girl with a privileged life leads the story and connects all the players. I thought of how Isabella would look when it dawned on me: if her eyes saw the story, then her eyes were speaking to me. Her eyes had to be demanding, cajoling, supplicating–always leaving a deep impression. That’s when I realized I was describing my mother’s eyes! My mother, Rachel Palombo, was a most beautiful woman with emerald green eyes. I decided then that Isabella’s eyes were going to be modeled on Rachel Palombo’s eyes. The other characters were modeled on real men and women who lived in that time period. Only their names were changed. These characters were fluid, changing with the circumstances of those terrible times.

The story took on a life of its own as it developed. The characters spoke to me. Some of them pleaded for their lives, some of them risked their lives to protect others, and some fell in love under the most inauspicious of circumstances. In the end, these characters fought for their land, their livelihoods, and the futures of their families.

Two hundred thousand Spanish Jews made the fateful decision to leave Spain in 1492. Many others converted rather than face the unknown in other lands. Today, 50% of Spaniards and Portuguese have the DNA Jewish marker that proves they have Sephardic Jewish ancestors.



Flower from Castile front

Will the young Catholic girl ever find her Jewish parents?

The Flower from Castile Trilogy opens in 1491 during the tumultuous unification of Spain under Catholicism. The battle for the conquest of Granada, which was held by the Islamic Moors for 700 years, empties Spain’s coffers and decimates the ranks of her soldiers.

Beautiful young Isabella Obrigon lives a life of privilege in Seville until she is caught between these two powerful nations. She is forced to uncover a secret about her birth and becomes trapped between two faiths and two peoples. She must decide whether to follow her heart and join her endangered brethren seeking exile from the brutal and infamous Inquisition, or stay and live a lie. When Isabella is held prisoner in the fabled Alhambra palace in Granada, an encounter with Miguel Costa seals her fate.

Nearby, Christopher Columbus-who may have secrets of his own-waits impatiently for the war to be won. His dreams of exploration and fabulous wealth can only come true if he receives a summons from Queen Isabella.



The year 1493 ushers in a New World, and Columbus is on a voyage with the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Niña to reach the Indies by sailing west. One of the sailors, João Treves, blackmails Columbus—threatening to reveal a secret that could ruin him—compelling Columbus to stow away Conversos on his next voyage. When the journey stretches longer than their food stores, the crew becomes fearful and rebellious.

Isabella and Miguel, along with the Beneluz family, are now sailing to Morocco where they can begin a new life. Their ship is headed for dangerous waters, infested with pirates bent on extracting hidden gold from unprotected passengers. Although Isabella and Miguel pray for smooth sailing, their voyage is beset by pirates, and they are taken as booty to be sold in Tangier’s slave market.

The ill-fated decision that instituted the Alhambra Decree and expelled all their Jewish artisans, farmers and workers leaves Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand vulnerable with depleted ranks of taxpayers. In her heart, the queen yearns for Columbus’s return with the gold promised for España.

The Flower from Castile Trilogy Raises New Questions about Columbus’s World

(LA QUINTA, CALIFORNIA) September 7, 2011 – Kidnapped a week before her wedding, a beautiful young Spanish noblewoman learns she may not be who thinks she is.  And how does her identity involve Christopher Columbus—and even Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand? The Alhambra Decree, the first book of the Flower from Castile Trilogy, takes readers to the homes and castles of kings and caliphs, nobles and commoners to show the surprising answer.

The drama plays out against the harrowing backdrop of the Inquisition and the expulsion of Jews from Queen Isabella’s Spain in 1492. Columbus wants money for his explorations. Torquemada, the merciless Inquisitor, wants Spain “cleansed” of all heretics. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella want to wrest Granada from 700 years of Moorish domination. This sweeping saga brings new life and questions to history you thought you knew.

Two strong families of different faiths unite to confront the destructive changes in their worlds. Their strength supports a love that creates hope in the midst of cruelty and sorrow. From this, new alliances and fortunes are begun even as Europe begins its conquest of the New World.

Lilian Gafni writes with passion about the traumas of displaced Jewish populations because she once was displaced herself. Jews lived peacefully for centuries in Cairo, Egypt, where she was born.  A dangerous current coursed through city when she was young that threatened their existence. Her family fled to the newly formed country of Israel, where she had to adapt to a new life, a new country, and a new language.


HelloExile3753913LA QUINTA, Calif. March 1, 2012 – For seven years, the Soviet Union denied Klara Abramovitch’s repeated applications for an exit visa. Desperate to be let go she rebels and takes the dangerous steps of protesting publicly–earning herself a four-year sentence in Siberian exile for “disturbing the peace.” She is torn from Grigory, the man she loves, and sent to a frozen frontier from which few return alive. To her, there was “no difference between an animal led to a slaughterhouse and a penned-in exile. One took life away; the other broke the human spirit–the essence for survival.” She finds a way to keep her spirit alive and help others do the same while adapting to the harsh Siberian winters and fighting loneliness. She develops an ingenious way to correspond with other prisoners of conscience and to relay information to their loved ones in Moscow.

Klara Abramovitch becomes the angel of prisoners of conscience while still a prisoner herself. But can she survive the Siberian wilderness and be reunited with Grigory in Moscow?

Lilian Gafni corresponded with Soviet prisoners of conscience in the 70s and with Ida Nudel (fictitiously named Klara Abramovitch in this book to protect her identity and safety while in prison.) At that time, it was dangerous for Ida Nudel to receive letters from abroad. To make sure she received her correspondence, letters were certified mail with return receipt. On the green returned postcard, Ida Nudel would scribble a few words of gratitude.

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.

“Hello Exile” is available for sale online at and other channels.

AHelloExileBack375913bout the Author:

Lilian Gafni was forced to flee with her parents and brothers when discrimination and anti-Semitic riots broke out in Egypt. She has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Portland and studied clinical psychology at Pepperdine University. Gafni published three other books “Flower from Castile Trilogy Book One: The Alhambra Decree, Flower from Castile Trilogy Book Two: The New World, and Living a Blissful Marriage: 24 Steps to Happiness.”





Lilian’s Cause:


“The American Cancer Society is the largest non-governmental funder of cancer research in the United States, spending approximately $130 million each year to work to find cures. The society funds both external research projects through grants and scholarships as well as conducting its own research into cancer epidemiology, surveillance, and health policy. They also fund beginning researchers with cutting-edge ideas early in their careers — 46 of whom have gone on to win the Nobel Prize, the highest accolade in scientific achievement.”


Author Links:




Facebook: Author Page:




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

2 × 3 =

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...


All entries, chronologically...