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The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Barbara Gaffin

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Barbara Gaffin until we are able to commission a full entry.

Activist Barbara Gaffin and an Ethiopian boy, 1981.

Barbara Gaffin brought international attention to the desperate circumstances of Ethiopian Jews and helped whole communities flee to Israel. Gaffin began her work by joining a group of North American Jews on a risky mission to Ethiopia. Posing as non-Jewish tourists, they traveled to the closed Jewish villages and documented government violence towards Jews. Gaffin returned to the US and began giving speeches, writing articles, and lobbying Congress to address the plight of Ethiopian Jews. Her work with the refugees has been ongoing since their relocation to Israel, drawing attention to serious problems in the absorption process and advocating for their rights.

Barbara Gaffin was honored at the 2000 Women Who Dared event in Boston.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Barbara Gaffin." (Viewed on March 28, 2023) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/gaffin-barbara>.


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