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'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 - is a chilling tale of the paths that so easily lead us astray, and the darkness within us all. “שטן
Click the book’s cover to learn more.

Watch Valérie Abécasis' interview with Naomi on French Channel 24's Culture program. The interview (in French) begins at the 4:00 minute mark.

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.

Nic Nie MówMay 2017 – The Polish translation of Devil in Jerusalem is published as Nic Nie Mów.

April 2017 – Naomi speaks about her books at the Ivan M. Stettenham Library at the Streicker Centre in New York City.

March 2017 – Naomi tours the Paris region to speak about her new book Les Soeurs Weiss, the French translation of The Sisters Weiss.

January 2017 – Naomi is interviewed by Valérie Abécasis on French Channel 24‘s Culture program. The interview (in French) begins at the 4:00 minute mark.

“LesDecember 2016Les Soeurs Weiss, the French translation of The Sisters Weiss, is published.

October 2016The 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 Sarah 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.


A Modest Proposal — Disband the Rabbinical Courts

I once read a book by a Western doctor who did his obstetrics residency in Algeria. The place had no equipment. No medicine. Not even educated staff. In the end, he concluded that it was ” just a place where an unusual number of women were giving birth.”

Much the same can be said of the Rabbinical Courts in Israel: It is just a place were an unusual number of people are seeking justice. It’s an accident if they get it.

Case one: My friend “Ruth,” remember her? The Rabbi’s wife, mother of twelve, who left an adulterous husband and has been forcibly separated from her children for almost four years?

With the transfer of Ruth’s case to the capable hands of lawyer Shmuel Casper (G-d bless him), things began to move. A year ago, three judges of the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court decided that Ruth’s children should be brought to a court-appointed psychologist by their father to prepare them for a meeting with their mother.

A day after this decision was made, one of the judges got a phone call (it couldn’t have been the father’s uncle, a distinguished head of a Rabbinical Academy, member of the Council of Torah Sages, now could it?).

The judge immediately resigned.

The judgment for the mother was put on hold. For an entire, heartbreaking year, the Court dallied. It wanted to appoint a new set of judges, Rav Dahan wrote. Mr. Casper opposed this, and went to the police, asking them to investigate the person who had intimidated the judge. The police refused, for “lack of public interest.” Mr. Casper then appealed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court.

I’m delighted to say he won.

Rabbi Lau, (G-d bless him!) Chief Rabbi, and Supreme Court head, reprimanded the judge and ordered him to enforce the judgment. If the father doesn’t comply, the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court needs to involve the police.

We’ll let you know what happens…

And its not just women who are being plowed under.

Case two: A couple with seven children divorced. The father, a devout religious Jew, disdained his friends’ advice and did not hold up the writ of divorce to squeeze his wife for concessions. All matters of custody and finances were left for later. The court appointed a respected psychologist to help decide custody.

In his report, the psychologist said the children were victims of abuse, and pointed to the mother and maternal grandfather as the perpetrators. The father asked that the two young boys, the children most at risk, be immediately transferred to his custody.

What did the Court do? They ignored their own Court-appointed psychologist’s report and accepted the mother’s suggestion that a family friend, a social worker with a spotted reputation, be asked to prepare another report (and obviously one more favorable to her…) The Court, inexplicably, thought this was a wonderful idea. But the vociferous objections of the father forced them to concede that, perhaps, after all, a psychologist was needed. So they appointed THE SAME psychologist (whose report they had ignored) again to prepare another report.

In the meantime, without the father’s knowledge or approval, one daughter was spirited out of the country, ostensibly to go to summer camp. Despite a $60,000 bond signed by the mother and grandmother guaranteeing her return, to be paid to the father if she didn’t, the daughter is still in America. When the father applied to the Court to enforce the bond, his request was ignored.

In the meantime, the abuse continues, the children (and their father) are miserable, longing for more time together than the two days a week and every other Shabbat the Court now allows. Ironically, religious law usually encourages the court to give male children over to their fathers in the wake of divorce.

How can we begin to understand the Court’s behavior? Perhaps this will help: the mother’s family is part of one of the greatest and most distinguished in the Rabbinical world. Her great-grandfather actually founded the religious world’s most influential political movement.

The Bible says: A judge must not perpetrate injustice, accept bribes or be partial or afraid (Deut. 1:17). He may not favor the poor or discriminate [even] against the wicked (Ex. 23:6). He is forbidden to hear one litigant without the other being present (Ex 23:1). He is forbidden from accepting testimony from relatives of those involved in a case (Deut. 24:16). Every person appointed as a rabbinical court judge in Israel must pledge to dispense justice fairly, not to pervert the law and to show no favor.

I assert that the Rabbinical Court system in Israel is rife with corruption, favoritism, and plain incompetence. Judges saunter in whenever it pleases them. They hold conferences in the hallways with Yiddish-speaking whisperers. Nothing is computerized. Files often get dusty, torn, lost.

Except those of powerful, well-connected litigants. Those are treated, as we see, quite differently.

For those secular Jews which Israeli laws force to go to Rabbinic Courts for divorces, it is an embittering experience which ensures their continued disdain of the Torah.

It serves no one well. Secular or religious.

The time has come to disband it, giving its powers to decide monetary and custody matters over to the civil courts. As for religious issues, let each community set up its own court, accepting judges on the basis of their learning and righteousness, not their political connections.

It’s a modest proposal whose time has come. Those who are interested in getting involved in changing the Rabbinic Court system, or who have been victims of it, can please contact me or

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