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.


“The
Naomi's just-published 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.

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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.


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.

Categories

Living with Terror

“Let’s take a walk,” my husband suggested.  And I agreed.  It was not yet dark and the air was crisp and cold.  Something was happening on Emek Refaim Street, some kind of festival for children.  There was a Punch and Judy show, a man dressed like a dinosaur.  The kids were crowding the streets, laughing.

We smiled at them as we passed them by.

When we got to the end of the street we decided to turn left and walk past Liberty Bell Park, and then onward towards the lively shopping street of Mamilla.  The stretch of sidewalk past the park is long and deserted but next to a busy road.  I had my newly acquired super-powerful pepper spray that turns red on contact in my purse (I got it in a gun store in Santa Fe, New Mexico; in Israel they’d run out last time I checked).  I turned around every once in a while to check behind me.  But no one was there.

Mamilla was alight with Chanukah decorations – strings of fairy lights, menorahs. People were  bustling along, going in and out of shops.

“Let’s go in and get a tea,” my husband offered.

We sat down in a coffee house by the window. The tea was steaming in front of us.

“He looks suspicious,” I told my husband, pointing to a man outside in a leather jacket leaning against a light post directly opposite us.

Then someone walked in.  Something was bulging in his pocket. I looked at him anxiously, sorry now that I’d suggested Mamilla, which is adjacent to the Old City, a place filled with Palestinian Arabs, who often come to Mamilla to shop and browse.

The man was looking at his watch.  The man outside was also looking at his watch.  Was this a coordinated activity between them? Or just waiting for someone?

“To you, everybody looks suspicious,” my husband chided, in no hurry to drink his tea.

I exhaled.  That was true.  I leaned back. Whatever was going to happen, was going to happen.

I forgot about the man outside, who eventually came inside.  Up close, he didn’t look at all suspicious, the good lighting outlining his nice brown leather jacket, making his face so normal and unthreatening, quite the opposite of how he’d seemed to me in the dark.

He too simply ordered something to eat, then waited in line to pick it up.

I finally relaxed, sipping my tea, reading snippets in the paper.

“You know that terrorist at the Promenade in Tel Aviv?  He said at his trial that he expected, wanted, to die. To be a martyr.”

Then I read about the terrible massacre in San Bernardino. “Work place violence, right,” I scoffed.  “Everybody just happens to have camouflage suits, assault rifles, pipe bombs, and thousands of rounds of ammunition handy in case anyone ticks them off at work.”

We walked home slowly, hand in hand. But before we left Mamilla, police sirens began to blare, along with ambulances and the sound of a helicopter overhead. We checked our phones.

A terrorist had attacked a border guard at Damascus Gate.  The guard was lightly injured.  The terrorist was “neutralized.”

It’s a new word.  It means dead, or disabled, or out of the picture, no longer a threat of any kind.

We continued our walk.  To my surprise, I felt less nervous now, not more.  It had happened. To someone else. And the terrorist was “neutralized.” It was over, I thought irrationally, as if that meant it wouldn’t be repeated, at least not tonight.

“You know, they keep attacking soldiers, border guards, people with guns.  They want to die. They want their 72 virgins. That’s why they keep doing it. Not because they think they’ll win. Or even because they are angry.  It’s their religious duty. It’s a way out of a life made disgusting by the immoral demands of their ‘faith.’ That’s why they are dying like lemmings.  They’ve created lives not worth living.”

When we got back to Emek Refaim, the dinosaur man was sitting down in a chair taking a rest.  But the Punch and Judy show was still going strong, the crowd of children even larger, their laughter filling the now well-lit streets, as Israelis went about living their lives, lives worth living.

1 comment to Living with Terror

  • This has always been the fataumenndl problem with reaching any kind of peace agreement. The needs of Israel either aren’t considered at all or they are given only superficial consideration. Supposedly we want to prevent a nuclear war. At least this is what our leaders tell us. Presumably Israel has a “tipping point” at which they would use nuclear weapons to defend their country. If you weaken Israel by giving land to the enemies of the state, you make it much harder for Israel to defend its self and the tipping point where Israel would need to use nuclear weapons would be reached much sooner. If Israel uses nuclear weapons, others would probably join in as well and a major military confrontation would be much more likely to ensue. It also makes it much more likely that we would be pulled in somehow. In other words, the current peace proposals actually make peace less likely instead of more likely. At a time when the US faces massive national debt, a struggling economy, and worn down over stretched military it seems insane to push policies that would make another military confrontation more likely but our leaders are doing it. Now contrast America’s situation with the situation Russia currently faces. Russia’s primary source of revenue is oil sales. A new war in the Middle East drives up the price of oil. For them a new military confrontation in the Middle East makes perfect sense. By pushing the current peace proposals we only play into the hands of more capable adversary. I’m pretty sure they would the proceeds from the increase price of oil to continue upgrading the conventional and nuclear forces.