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.


Agreeing To Disagree

I was sitting on a bus on the way to Jerusalem’s town center a few weeks before Rosh Hashana, when the radio started broadcasting a commercial from the Reform and Conservative movements. It went something like this: “Ask forgiveness from your wife that you won’t be sitting next to her this Rosh Hashana. Come to a Reform or Conservative synagogue where your whole family can pray together.”

My fellow passengers included many bewigged matrons, and even more haredi men, obviously on their way to yeshiva. They sat quietly through what I considered a really quite offensive and insensitive message. After all, the separate seating in an Orthodox synagogue doesn’t require an apology. It isn’t something men are doing to women. On the contrary, I choose to pray in an Orthodox synagogue simply because I would find it very difficult to concentrate on prayers if I was surrounded by men, and I assume that most normal men might feel similarly when surrounded by women, even if they wouldn’t admit it. But this isn’t really the point. What happened next is.

For some reason, the commercial was put on a second time. At this point, a very dignified, grey-bearded haredi man, sitting in the front seat, demanded that the driver change radio channels.

No way, the driver insisted. This is national radio channel two. I always listen to national radio channel two. This is my bus. I haven’t done anything wrong.

Well, … screaming. The haredi man rose indignantly: “You apikorus (heretic)”  he denounced the bus driver. “You defiler of the Sabbath! You eater of pig!”

Now the driver got really mad. “Sit down,” he screamed. “I’m going to tell you something. Do you know that I get up everyday at five in the morning to put on teffilin and pray? Do you know that we Egged bus drivers have our own prayer service every morning before we start our routes? What do you know about me? Nothing! Just because I’m not wearing a skull cap? Where do you get off accusing me of such things ?”

Well, the haredi man suddenly sat down. For a long time, he said nothing. Then he got up, and in front of the whole bus, respectfully approached the driver and apologized. For the rest of the ride, the two engaged in what appeared to me to be a very convivial and productive conversation.

The other day, my teenage son asked me why our house hasn’t been spray painted . Why we haven’t been attacked, etc. “Why would you expect that?” I questioned him, dumbfounded.

“You know…. Because of all those things you write.”

I thought about it a minute. In all the years I have been complaining about deficiencies in the Orthodox world I live in, I have been called a liar outright during lectures, usually by a bewigged matron. I have been vilified in haredi publications, denounced by friends, snubbed by former rabbinical mentors. I have received angry letters, had a lecture or two cancelled by people threatening my hosts. But for the most part, I have been left alone to think  and write and publish anything I want.  My friends are still my friends (even the ones who’ve denounced me) and my synagogue still opens its welcoming doors to me. Indeed, I am on excellent terms with many religious people, including many wonderful haredim, from all over the world.

Sitting in my office, relaxed and totally unburdened by threats of any kind, I can think of many other cultures and societies in which a woman like myself would fare far worse. It is to the credit of the religious world in which I live that despite the many hurtful and embarrassing criticisms leveled at them – a good number by myself — they have made no attempt to silence opposing voices through physical, social, or economic threats.

That’s because our phone number is unlisted, my son says cynically.

I’d like to think it isn’t just that, although I’m sure not being an easy target gives those with momentary uncontrollable urges the necessary moments they need to control them.

I’d like to think that despite all that is crying out for improvement and change in the religious world, there is still a basic decency, a respect for justice and a desire for righteousness there that readies that world to listen sincerely, if reluctantly, to criticism. And that ability to hear and understand will, in the end, permit the acceptance of just criticisms, allowing the religious world to move towards change for the better.

I can already see it happening. Shelters for battered religious women. Shelters for abused religious children. Job programs to give yeshiva students marketable skills. Religious women publishing novels and poetry, founding organizations like Kolech. The change is all around me. It’s blossoming.

I think that shouting and yelling is fine, as long as it doesn’t go beyond that. And as long as the voices being raised don’t deafen the shouter to what’s being replied.

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