Abraham J. Gafni was born June 29, 1939, in Brooklyn New York. He graduated from Yeshiva University (1960) with Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Hebrew Letters Degrees and from Harvard Law School (1963). In addition, he studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
His legal career has included numerous and varied positions. After working at the US Securities and Exchange Commission, he came to Philadelphia and served as a law clerk to the Hon. J. Sydney Hoffman, as a partner in his law firm, as the Deputy District for Law of Philadelphia and as a Judge. During his judicial career he occupied several positions within the Court system including, most notably, Court Administrator of Pennsylvania, and, most memorably, as both Criminal and Civil Calendar Judge. Following his retirement from the Bench in 1994, he joined the faculty of Villanova University School of Law as a Professor of Law. He had earlier served as an Adjunct Professor at Temple Law School from 1974-1994 and at Villanova starting in 1988.
In addition to his judicial and academic activity, he has been recognized over a period of more than thirty years for his contributions to continuing legal education. He has lectured extensively for the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and American Bar Associations, as well as other professional groups locally, nationally and internationally including the judiciary, prosecutor and defender offices, governmental organizations, and insurance and accounting institutes. Currently, he contributes a bi-monthly article to the Legal Intelligencer on ADR.
Over the years he has participated and served as an officer and member of numerous Court and Bar Association Committees including his current service on the Supreme Court’s Appellate Court Procedural Rules Committee and the Commission on Judicial Independence of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
This past year he completed seven years as President of the Arbitration Tribunal of the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims. Other communal activities have included the Presidencies of West Mt. Airy Neighbors and the Germantown Jewish Centre, and he has been the only three-time speaker at Brandeis Law Society’s Jewish Law Day.
Numerous legal organizations have honored him in the past including the Philadelphia Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges, the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association, the Justinian Society and the Conference of Pa State Court Administrators.
Judge Gafni is married to Sandra Adler Gafni (Villanova Law 1982). His first wife Miriam L. Gafni (Villanova Law 1967) passed away in 1994. He has two children, Jonathan, married to Nina Sonnenreich Gafni and Rachel Gafni, married to Barry Boden. He has four grandchildren, Adina and Joseph Gafni and Matthew and Rebecca Boden.
When he was honored by the Philadelphia Bar Association in 1994, the award presented to him stated : “To A Complete Jurist, Fair and Wise, Who Handled All Manner Of Cases With Boundless Energy And Splendid Temperament, And Worked So Well With Bar And Legislature To Improve The Judicial System.”