Naomi Ragen is an American-born novelist, playwright and journalist who has lived in Jerusalem since 1971. Naomi writes regularly in the Jerusalem Post and to her mailing list about Israel and Jewish issues.


“The
My tenth novel, The Devil in Jerusalem, will be published this coming October, and I will be speaking about it on my November US lecture tour. The story - inspired by true events - begins with two brothers admitted to Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital with horrific injuries while their mother, a young American, devoutly recites Psalms at the bedside and refuses to answer any questions. “שטןBrought in to investigate, Detective Bina Tzedek follows a winding path that takes her through Jerusalem’s Old City, kabbalists, mystical ancient texts, and terrifying cult rituals, until she finally uncovers the shocking truth.
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.


Naomi has previously published nine 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 ninth novel, The Sisters Weiss, 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.


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“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.

A True Jewish Hero – Part Two

Everyone who had known Saba Avraham was blessed with the knowledge that his magnificent legacy would live on within them and all the generations that follow.

In part one of “A True Jewish Hero,” published in The Jerusalem Post Magazine on February 24, I followed the story of Avraham and Naomi Timor’s escape from the Holocaust, and their lives as religious, Jewish pioneers in pre-State Israel.

The travails of the War of Independence forced them to abandon their home in Neveh Ya’acov, Naomi giving birth in Jerusalem to her fifth child while Avraham, as Hagana commander of Neveh Ya’acov, courageously led his men to safety on a midnight life-or-death escape to Mount Scopus.

Despite the birth of his daughter, and everything he had already been though, Avraham accepted the appointment of Hagana commander of Mount Scopus.

Only with the first break in fighting did he manage to get to Jerusalem to see his new child. The moment he arrived, though, he was sent to command Unit 16, a battalion defending Jerusalem. In the meantime, authorities decided to resettle all the refugees from Neveh Ya’acov, Atarot, Kibbutz Be’erot Yitzhak and Nehalim in Wilhelmina, a German Templer colony near Lod which had been abandoned by its founders.

When Avraham at long last managed to check out Wilhelmina, he found all the inhabitable dwellings had already been taken. What was available was a wreck without floor tiles, roof tiles, doors or windows.

All his worldly goods left behind in Neveh Ya’acov, he made a list of what was needed to make his new home habitable, then returned to Jerusalem to request permission from military authorities to take what he needed from other abandoned and destroyed homes. Using an army-loaned vehicle, he loaded the supplies and transferred them to Wilhelmina.

One day later, in the cold of December, he moved Naomi and his six children to the house, using old blankets to take the place of windows and doors, and old mattresses to make a floor. It was no surprise that the children became ill soon after. Shiraleh’s flu, especially, is ingrained in the collective family memory. Slowly, in his spare time, using only his bare hands, Avraham made the house livable, even though the bathrooms remained outside.

The family’s economic situation was dire.

The bare minimum needed to maintain a family of eight at that time was 80 lirot a month. The army, which had no budget, was paying Avraham five lirot a month. Combined with the five lirot per month government allowance for each child, the family had only 35 lirot a month to live on. In April ’49 Avraham had no choice but to be demobilized.

In Wilhemina, he began his new farm with two goats, named Rasputin and Nimrod, two sheep and a family vegetable garden. Naomi continued to use her knitting machine, and worked as a nurse in the local clinic. Avraham shared responsibility for the security of the community and took on building jobs on the side. But he was soon called back by his commanders to help found the fledgling Israel Defense Forces.

In April 1950, Avraham was appointed commander of the Lod Bloc at a salary that allowed the family a normal existence. In 1952, the family moved to a new moshav established just north of Wilhelmina. It was named Nehalim, in remembrance of the community abandoned in the Galilee. The family received one of 78 housing units arranged by the Jewish Agency. Every home came with five acres of land and another two acres of orchards to be worked collectively. The Jewish Agency also supplied them with chicken coops, barns, a donkey, two cows, some ducks and a few turkeys, which no one actually succeeded in raising, Avraham admitted.

In the Fifties and Sixties, Moshav Nehalim suffered along with the rest of the moshavim in the area from constant thefts of their equipment and livestock by Palestinian infiltrators. The loss of their precious goats is remembered with sorrow to this day.

Because the Timor family was considered a large one, they were allowed to build an extra-large, 80 sq.m. home. Naomi chose the location because it contained a swimming hole which the family used every summer afternoon to give swimming lessons.

The planning and building of the house was entirely in Avraham’s hands. It consisted of four rooms, a large porch and indoor plumbing. But because the family were among the first to move into the new moshav, there was initially no electricity and no roads. They raised field crops, animal and chicken feed, as well as corn and sweet potatoes. There were blooming orchards of pecan trees. And soon the family, too, was blooming, adding another two sons: Moishe (after his heroic uncle, commander of Gush Etzion who had fallen in battle) and Ra’anan.

Avraham continued to receive military promotions. But it was Avraham’s enormously successful large-scale project of restoring precious military equipment to use that finally caught his commanders’ special attention, and he was soon appointed second in command of military supplies, a job that lasted 10 years.

With Avraham busy in the army, Naomi and the children took on managing the farm. Naomi continued to work as a nurse in the local clinic, all the babies in Nehalim coming under her care. In addition, she continued knitting clothes, garments that to this day are treasured and used by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

On the verge of being promoted to lieutenant- colonel, Avraham reluctantly made the painful decision to leave the military, understanding that if he chose to remain, his military pension wouldn’t be enough to support the family, and that he’d be too old to do anything else. He took a job with the Ports Authority, and was put in charge of expanding Haifa Port, among many other important jobs, working there until his retirement in 1980.

But the IDF was reluctant to let him go. In the framework of reserve duty, he worked with Ariel Sharon during the Six Day War, reaching the Suez Canal. In the Yom Kippur War, he was called up to help manage civilian and industrial supplies in Modi’in.

It was perhaps after his retirement that Avraham Timor became most active, volunteering his time in the Modi’in Local Council, the council’s day-care center for the elderly, and heading the synagogue committee in Nehalim, which under his tireless direction managed after many years to build a beautiful new synagogue to serve the yishuv.

The beautiful love story of Avraham and Naomi ended in 1994 when Naomi was killed in a tragic car crash. She was 80 years old.

After his beloved wife’s passing, the last job of Avraham (Wexler) Timor began, ending only with his death last month. With military precision, he gathered his 120 children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren together twice a year, using his pension to finance gatherings in hotels and youth hostels. In addition, he set up funds to help young family members with scholarships and mortgages. He arranged family outings, weekends, birthday parties and presents for grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He also managed to attend every military ceremony involving his offspring as they successfully finished IDF courses, or received promotions.

One year he had eight grandchildren serving in the IDF at the same time!

On Sunday morning, March 4, the 30th day after his death, the family of Avraham and Naomi Timor gathered around his grave to honor and mourn him. With their arms around each other and tears in their eyes, every one who had known Saba Avraham was blessed with the knowledge that his magnificent legacy would live on within them and all the generations that follow.

But it is not just his family that must shed a tear of sorrow and pride. All of us, every single Jew living in his or her homeland, a place that has known war, terror and want, must look around us at the beautiful country we were bequeathed by the men and women pioneers who in their passionate love and madness chose to risk their lives and all they had to fulfill their dream, thus making our lives and dreams here possible. May his memory and all those of his generation who fought and worked with him, and who have gone to their final reward, be blessed. May we be worthy of their sacrifices and continue their work.

This article was first published in the Jerusalem Post on 9 March, 2012.

7 comments to A True Jewish Hero – Part Two

  • Danny Sheffer

    Dear Naomi
    My name is Danny Sheffer (Sheffrin) and I am the grandson of the brother of Avrams father. I came to Israel 37 years ago and met Avram and was in touch with him for a few years, sadly the contact was lost for many years, the fault was all mine. I lived on Beit Guvrin for 35 years and at the moment I live on Kibbutz Gazit with my new wife , although I am still a member of Beit Guvrin. I was saddened to hear about the death of my uncle Avram, and even for the few years I knew him I realized he was a great man. Thank you for writing about him as if I didnt read this I wouldnt have known the story.

  • Alexandra

    Dear Naomi….. I was very moved by Avraham’s wonderful life. It makes me feel so proud of my Jewish heritage.
    I hope I can go to Israel soon…. All my love and admiration for every book and everything you write, Alexandra.

  • A. Da Costa

    Thank you for a superb description of this particular hero and his place in history. Ayee MdC

  • Hi Naomi, Thanks a lot for this wonderful story. Siting here in the US I too have to think of those days at the end of 1947 & the beginning of 1948. I was stationed at Qiryat Anavim with the Palmach during the was and are well aware of what went on. A lot of my friend are buried at that kibbutz. My regiment was the only one in the army with its own cemetery. I too had tears in my eyes reading that last paragraph. So, thank you again for this wonderful story. All the best Jerry

  • Les Lieberman

    Thank you for bringing us the story of this wonderfully gentle and yet self-directed pillar of Eretz Yisroel. Heroes are found in many places, often unnoticed by the mainstream, and yet, their very existence allows the rest of us to move forward. So it was with with this wonderful family. Your final paragraph brought tears to my eyes and goosebumps all over! May we all be worthy of their sacrifices and commitment to our People.

  • Eluzer Kowalsky

    Thank you for sharing a beautiful, moving tribute to your Saba Avraham, who truly followed in the footsteps of our Avot in building and settling in Eretz Yisrael and was a true pioneer in the finest way. Yehi Zichro Baruch!

  • David Edeltein

    Thank you for sharing this important piece
    of Jewish history with us.