Naomi Ragen is an American-born novelist, playwright and journalist who has lived in Jerusalem since 1971. Naomi has written for the Jerusalem Post and other publications in Israel and abroad, as well as to her mailing list, about Israel and Jewish issues.

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Naomi Ragen is an American-born novelist, playwright and journalist who has lived in Jerusalem since 1971. Naomi has written for the Jerusalem Post and other publications in Israel and abroad, as well as to her mailing list, about Israel and Jewish issues.



Naomi's tenth novel The Devil in Jerusalem has been chosen by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency as the number one Jewish book of the season.
The story - inspired by true events - begins with an ambulance screaming through Jerusalem’s quiet streets. Inside, a toddler fights for his life, his parents nowhere to be found. With profound shock, an emergency room doctor realizes that the child’s mother, a young American, is already at the hospital sitting at the bedside of yet another child with traumatic injuries, devoutly reciting Psalms and stubbornly refusing to answer any questions. “שטן
The Devil in Jerusalem is a chilling tale of the paths that so easily lead us astray, and the darkness within us all. Click the book’s cover to learn more.


Join Naomi in New York at the Skirball Center's Meet the Author Evening on April 25, 2017 at 6:30PM.





Naomi has published ten internationally best-selling novels, and is the author of a hit play (Women's Minyan) that has been performed more than 500 times in Israel's National Theatre (Habimah) as well as in the United States and Argentina.
An Orthodox woman, feminist and iconoclast, Naomi is a tireless advocate for women's rights in Israel, waging a relentless campaign against domestic abuse and bias in rabbinical courts, as well as a successful Supreme Court case against gender segregation on Israeli buses.
With her tenth novel, The Devil in Jerusalem, Naomi continues her ground-breaking exploration of women in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish world she began in 1989 with Jephte's Daughter, followed by Sotah and The Sacrifice of Tamar.
Naomi is a sought-after lecturer all over the world. If your group is interested in hosting Naomi, please click here.


October 2016 - The Devil in Jerusalem is published in paperback.
November 2015 - The Jewish Telegraphic Agency puts The Devil in Jerusalem at the top of its list of the best Jewish books of the season.
November 2015 - Naomi lectured in Newton (MA), Boca Raton (FL), Miami (FL), St. Louis (MO), New York City, Atlanta (GA), Cherry Hill (NJ) and Santa Fe (NM).
“שטןAugust 2015 - Naomi’s new book, שטן בירושלים, a translation of The Devil in Jerusalem, is published.
Le Dixieme Chant8-19 March 2015 - Naomi toured France and Switzerland, speaking to her readers in Paris, Marseilles, Strasbourg and Geneva about her new French book, Le Dixieme Chant, a translation of The Tenth Song.
12-20 November 2014 - Naomi lectured at the Windsor Writer’s Conference in Windsor, ON as well as in Detroit, Toronto and Winnipeg.
The Sisters Weiss7 October 2014 - Naomi's ninth novel, The Sisters Weiss, was published in paperback. It's the story of two sisters from an ultra-Orthodox family in 1950s Brooklyn who take very different paths, and then find their lives unexpectedly intersecting again forty years later. To order the book from Amazon, click the book cover above.

8-17 August 2014 - Naomi was the scholar-in-residence on Kosherica's Kosher Baltic Cruise aboard the Norwegian Cruise Lines Star. The 9 night cruise visited Copenhagen, Rostock, Tallinn, Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Stockholm.

Salone Internazionale del Libro 8-9 May 2014 - Naomi took part in a panel discussion on women in Israel, together with Fiamma Nirenstein and Elena Loewenthal, at the Salone Internazionale del Libro 2014 in Turin, Italy.

December 2013 - Watch an interview (in French) with Naomi about her struggle against the haredi war on women in Israel.
Watch an interview (in French) with Naomi about Le Serment.


December 2013 - Naomi visited Île-de-France to promote her new book Le serment (the French translation of The Covenant).


Sotah 15 March 2012 - Sotah was published in Italian as L'amora proibito. Read a review (in Italian).

Jephte's Daughter March 2012 - Jephte's Daughter was published in an Italian paperback edition, as Una moglie a Gerusalemme.

Le Fantôme de Dona Gracia Mendes October 2011 - The Ghost of Hannah Mendes was published in French as Le Fantôme de Dona Gracia Mendes. Read a review (in French).

The Tenth Song October 2011 - The Tenth Song was published in paperback.

May 2011 - Four-time Tony nominee Tovah Feldshuh directed a staged reading of Women's Minyan at New York's Westside Theater. The reading was produced by One Circle Productions, in partnership with Safe Horizon.

Watch the reading. Watch an interview with Naomi and Tovah Feldshuh.

Le serment November 2013 - The Covenant was published in French as Le serment.

November 2013 - Watch an interview with Naomi by Sharon Mor of Shaulina Productions about Naomi's new book The Sisters Weiss in Hebrew or in English.

6 November 2013 - Israel's Supreme Court reversed the District Court's decision against Naomi in the Shapiro case and ordered Shapiro to return the money she was awarded. Naomi agreed that the money be donated to charity.
October-November 2013 - Naomi toured the US, visiting twelve US cities and speaking about her new book, The Sisters Weiss.
The Sisters Weiss October 2013 - Naomi's ninth novel, The Sisters Weiss, was published. Read an article about it in the San Diego Jewish World.
Chains Around the Grass August 2013 - Chains Around the Grass was published in an Amazon Kindle edition.
July 2013 - An interview with Naomi about her trips to Spain to research her best-selling The Ghost of Hannah Mendes was featured in Jewish Travel.
December 2012 - Naomi's play Women's Minyan was performed by the West Boca Theatre Company at the Levis JCC in Boca Raton, Florida.
November 2012 - Naomi visited Île-de-France speaking about her books.
5 November 2012 - Naomi spoke at the Cockfosters and North Southgate Synagogue in London, England.

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The Ghost of Hannah Mendes

The Ghost of Hannah Mendes

When Catherine da Costa, a wealthy Manhattan matron, learns she has only a short time to live, she realizes that her family tree will die unless she passes on its legacy and traditions to her granddaughters. But Suzanne and Francesca, beautiful young women caught up in trendy causes and ambitious careers, have no interest in the past. Catherine almost despairs until one night she is visited by the ghost of her family’s ancestor, an indomitable Renaissance businesswoman named Hannah Mendes.

The ghost of Hannah Mendes encourages Catherine to use every trick in the book to coerce the granddaughters to journey across Europe and acquaint themselves with their roots. While the sisters honor their grandmother’s request out of loyalty, they believe their quest is futile — until it starts to uncover ancient pages from Hannah Mendes’ fascinating memoir, and brings new loves into their lives.


Click the cover image above to order this book from Amazon.


 

German version of The Ghost of Hannah Mendes

“Naomi Ragen delivers a mesmerizing tale about the journey of a discontented and disconnected family as they are lead by ghosts – both real and imagined – to discover their past and present. Ragen skilfully blends together contemporary voices with voices from the little-known era of the Spanish Inquisition to weave a stunning tapestry that brings fresh meaning not only to the lives of her characters but also to our own.”
Gay Courter, author of The Midwife

Portuguese version of The Ghost of Hannah Mendes

Each of Ragen’s previous novels – Jephte’s Daughter, Sotah and The Sacrifice of Tamar – focused on a family story within an insular orthodox Jewish community. Here, Ragen weaves an account of a contemporary, thoroughly assimilated New York Jewish family into that of their renowned Sephardic ancestor Hannah Mendes–a true historical personage who lived in Portugal during the 16th century. Through both sets of characters, Ragen examines questions of faith, responsibility and the urgent desire to ensure the continuation of a family line. Both current and historical narratives include tales of passion and romance, but the medieval tale is more literary and engaging. When, in the present, elderly, wealthy Catherine de Costa learns that she is dying, she wants to make sure that her 20-something granddaughters, Suzanne and Francesca, connect meaningfully with their heritage. Catherine manipulates them into searching for long-lost portions of Hannah’s memoirs and sends them off to Europe where, as manuscript pages turn up, their ancestor’s story begins to come alive. The memoirs include well-researched descriptions of the Spanish Inquisition as well as secret rituals practiced by medieval Jews who had been forced to convert to Christianity. As though fated, each sister meets an appropriate man, one a doctor, the other a professional manuscript hunter. Suspense rises as they each experience dreamlike visitations from Hannah that lead them to self-fulfillment and the embrace of their heritage … Ragen’s forte is her ability to forge a connection between past and present, while the book adroitly addresses issues of faith and family.
Kirkus Reviews


From the Jerusalem Post French edition

French version of The Ghost of Hannah Mendes

Histoires de famille

Agnès Lichten

Pour avoir dévoré Sotah, le premier ouvrage de Naomi Ragen traduit en français et lu avec passion, La Fille de Jephtée, qui lui avait succédé un an plus tard, j’attendais avec impatience la publication d’un troisième opus de cette auteure américaine à succès. Mais Le Fantôme de Dona Gracia Mendes allait m’emporter dans un univers auquel je n’étais pas préparée.

Ragen est surtout connue pour sa description sans compromis de la communauté haredie israélienne. Cette New-Yorkaise d’origine, née à Brooklyn dans une famille juive orthodoxe, s’est bâtie une réputation internationale pour ses récits de femmes coincées dans un monde de tradition et pétries de rêves de modernité. Ces parcours de vie aux confins d’une religion pratiquée à l’extrême, sous couvert d’humilité et d’observance rigoureuse, d’abnégation à une foi sans faille, quand l’âme s’abandonne et s’efface, mais où l’amour finit par triompher. Telles étaient les trames de Sotah et de La Fille de Jephtée.

Avec Le Fantôme de Dona Gracia Mendes, Ragen va piocher dans le panel inverse. Elle croque au contraire le portrait de deux femmes libres, affranchies de tout poids traditionnel, loin de toute contrainte spirituelle. Francesca et Suzanne Abraham, deux soeurs célibataires de moins de trente ans gèrent leurs vies et leur féminité comme elles l’entendent, en toute indépendance, dans le New York du 21e siècle. La famille ? Elles la voient de loin en loin.

Mais la maladie de leur grand-mère maternelle, Catherine da Costa, et l’imminence de la mort vont changer la donne. A l’aube de tirer sa révérence, Catherine, richissime héritière d’une grande lignée sépharade, jette un regard sans concession sur le bilan de sa vie et l’absence de transmission qu’elle laisse derrière elle. Ni sa fille, Janice, ni ses deux petites-filles, Suzanne et Francesca, ne sauront faire perdurer l’histoire familiale. Comme si la longue chaîne ancestrale s’arrêtait là.

Ragen initie alors un roman-fiction qui mêle allègrement vérité historique et faits imaginaires. Entre rêverie et exaltation. Logique et fascination. Car Catherine n’est autre que la descendante de l’illustre Dona Gracia Mendes, véritable héroïne de l’Inquisition et bienfaitrice pour le peuple d’Israël encore louée aujourd’hui. Pour éviter la dispersion des siens et rassembler les maillons de sa tribu en déroute, elle lance ses petites-filles sur les traces du manuscrit de leur célèbre ancêtre, une quête qui les plongera à la découverte d’un des personnages historiques les plus fascinants de la Renaissance.

Mais plus que l’histoire de Dona Gracia Mendes, c’est la leur surtout que Suzanne et Francesca vont apprendre à recomposer, apprivoiser pour finir par se l’approprier. Car comme le dit si bien le dicton populaire : sans passé, on n’a pas de présent.

C’est un livre tout en bons sentiments que signe ici Naomi Ragen. Une intrigue connue d’avance, une morale un brin cliché, mais une formidable immersion dans la vie de ces Juifs d’Espagne et du Portugal en ces temps noirs de l’Inquisition. Ragen sait raconter. Tenir le lecteur en haleine. Faire crépiter sa plume sur les cordes affectives et émotionnelles d’un lecteur qui se prend au jeu de la vie de ses héroïnes. A lire pour se réconcilier avec soi-même et ses origines.