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.


Are You For Us Or Against Us?

After an emotionally exhausting election campaign in which I found myself—for the first time ever—terrified that the wrong results might prove an existential threat to Israel’s existence, the moment of truth had come. There, on a large screen in a (literally) cheesy kosher Italian restaurant in Paris’s 16th arrondissement, I was about to see the results of the exit poll at the close of voting.

I wasn’t alone. The place was packed with French Jews, members of B’nai B’rith, who had arranged the dinner for me. I was going to say a few words in Hebrew, which my host would translate. But there was no point. All eyes were on the screen as we held our collective breath.

My host, chauffeur and translator, who had left Israel for France as a child, discussed the election with me on the way over. I was a bit surprised that he was as staunchly in favor of the prime minister as I was, and just as fearful that Chaim Herzog and Tzipi Livni might take his place. “They are leftists, like Obama,” he declared. “That’s why Obama wants them in office—to undermine Israel’s security. He knows they won’t give him trouble on Iran, like Bibi does.”

For French Jews, traumatized by Islamic anti-Semitism and terrifying attacks like the recent massacre in the Hypercacher, a kosher market, Israel is increasingly being viewed as an immediate refuge. Some 5,000 Jews immigrated to Israel in 2014, up from 3,289 in 2013. Everywhere I go in Jerusalem, I hear French. As the screen lit up with the election results, a shout of joy reverberated through the room.
Not everyone in the Jewish world felt that way. Despite the euphoria of a hard-won victory, the aftermath of this bitterly fought campaign has been sobering, highlighting a real, deep and perhaps unbridgeable divide among Jews everywhere. Questions asked during the election have not gone away; they have simply deepened. Do the Arabs want to annihilate Israel, or will they be sincere partners in peace following a two-state solution? Are President Obama’s Mideast policies a threat to Israel’s existence, or will his proposed framework for a negotiated settlement with Iran prove the best deal possible under the circumstances to prevent a terror-supporting Iran from becoming a nuclear power?

I believe that the sides being taken on these vital issues, both before and after the election, are no whim of the moment that might change tomorrow with new information, but are a deep-seated expression of each individual Jew’s core identity and worldview. They are an insight into whether a Jew—French, American or Israeli—defines himself or herself as a practicing Jew and the Land of Israel as God-given, a place to express Jewish identity through adherence to the Torah; or whether one sees oneself as a modern secularist and the State of Israel as a temporary political response to anti-Semitism following the Holocaust, one whose reason for existence might disappear just as quickly. Put this way, these views are admittedly extreme. But as election reactions prove, most Jews incline to one view or the other.

“Most American Jews overwhelmingly support liberal positions and see the idea of two states for two peoples as the only way to avoid a future in which Jews rule over a minority that lacks equal rights. [The election results] will only further the alienation of the majority of American Jewry from Israeli politics and values,” Jewish-American author and sociologist Samuel Heilman told Haaretz. In contrast, the Zionist Organization of America’s Mort Klein told Haaretz, “I’m proud that the Israelis chose reality and security over fantasy and a phony hope in change.”

In Israel, reactions were even more extreme. Gideon Levy of Haaretz wrote, “The first conclusion that arose just minutes after the announcement of the exit polls was particularly discouraging: The nation must be replaced. Not another election for the country’s leadership, but general elections to choose a new Israeli people…” Secular playwright Joshua Sobol derided “mezuzah-kissing” Jews as “fools” and likened Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett to the Nazis. His remarks came in defense of secular Israeli painter and political pundit Yair Garbuz, who caused an uproar at a Tel Aviv rally before election day by asserting that “amulet kissers and pagan worshipers” are controlling the country.
Our newly re-elected prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, responded: “I heard someone speak of people who kiss mezuzot with disdain. Since when is it a crime to kiss a mezuzah?”

He added, “We know where we came from and we know what country we came back to. We know what we are fighting to keep. We know about our tradition and about our heritage.”

Those who voted for Netanyahu, rooted for him and rejoiced in his victory would certainly agree. I’m sad to say I don’t feel comfortable asserting that is also true about the other side. That’s an unbridgeable gap with which we Jews will just have to learn to live.

This article was first published in the May-June 2015 issue of Moment Magazine.

13 comments to Are You For Us Or Against Us?

  • Naomi R.

    Naomi. There is nothing I can add to what you have written. What I have seen both from reading your books and your superb articles is that you make every effort to present the truth even at great cost to yourself. Kol Hakavod and may Hashem give you strength to continue your work. Some of us are paying attention.

  • marty samuels

    My friends and I are appalled at especially the Jewish liberals who would throw Israel under the truck. Don’they realize they would be next? Don’t they look at history?

  • Gary Fidel: sure, let’s obsess over 13th-order issues while the place is about to blow up — like arguing over the interior decoration of a house that’s on fire. Because, you know, people who say meaaaaaan words about people are sooooo much more of an issue than those of our enemies who already routinely torture and kill “ahl al-Lut” (as they call homosexuals) while they would, of course, love to enslave or kill all of us.

    There is a name for the attitude that imputes automatic moral superiority and immunity from criticism for those who practice “alternative s3xual lifestyles”. It is called ‘homosexism’ and I have no more time for it than I have for so-called ‘homophobia’.

  • Renaud

    Those who mourn the Nakba must be expelled of Israel/Palestine.
    A new Herod close to Israel must replace the Fatah and Gaza leaders.
    There is time for democracy and there is time for a one way politics.
    There is no difference between Abbas and Hanyeh: Both want Israel to desappear.
    Religious laws who kept Israeli people in minority must be reformed.
    Only 13 million jews in 3500 years is against nature, against education. Jews were 20% of the Roman empire.
    Religious people and false hassidims have broken God’s promise to his people to be as numerous as the stars in heaven.
    Religion must be reformed

    • Moshe Akivat

      Renaud, you can’t even explain to the rabbis that poisons shouldn’t be kosher. How will you explain them the Talmud is outdated, obsolete? Logic and facts do not work in their case.
      As you say, we perhaps could be the most numerous nation on the planet if they didn’t rule against the Torah, saying that a Jewish mother makes a child Jewish. It’s crazy. Why can’t either parent’s Jewishness be enough?

      And by the way, not only those Muslims should be expelled from Israel, who worship naqba day, but all of them. The Israeli government made the greatest mistake in 1967. The Muslims should have been sent to their loving Muslim brothers to other Muslim countries. Letting them stay led to numerous idiotic UN resolutions at first, terrorism, later to BDS, anti-Israel NGO-s, even to attacking Jews in European and North American universities or in the streets because “Israel mistreats the Molestinians”. All this BS could have been simply avoided.

      And if anybody believes there will be peace between Jews and this mixed Muslim terrorist rabble on the land of Israel he is totally mistaken. Unless he thinks the Muslims will mass-murder the Jews.

  • Don Saliman


    I live on a left wing Kibbutz, Nahal Oz but was happy for a Likud win but am now unhappy with who the coalition with Bibi chose.

    I don’t like it when our money is controlled by the extream religious people and also the education.

    I am unhappy that Liberman decided not to join and that a convicted felon is in charge of our money.

    I thank you for writing your articles that I agree with about 90% and please keep it up, you are my way of getting my views out to the public that I have very few access to.

  • Alan Cahn

    Naomi Ragen writings,spirit,and support for Bibi deserves a Yashi Koach..Thank you.
    I appreciate Mr.Fidel’s concerns as an issue,along with the Ethiopians,the Sudanese,the Tel Aviv rental issues,the BDS movements,Histradrut,and many other social issues.
    The core issue however,is survival of the Jewish State vs a vis the Anti-Semitic war mongering “neighbors” along with the UN,EU,Vatican,and a weak American President.
    Psychologically,I truly cannot understand how the Prime Minister can deal with these issues while maintaining this amazingly pluralistic democratic Jewish society that is hopefully trying to observe Torah values.

  • Claire Berke

    I am with you all the way Naomi. I appreciated so much your writings about the Prime Minister and his problems with the media but thanks to you people came around and understood that they can be safe with him.

    I feel a little better this week about the Iran mess since the congress signed this bill, again thanks to Bibi speaking to them.I was really nervous last week when at a gathering, a man from Stand with Us, spoke about the problems and we were able to pick up papers showing us what was really happening. I was not proud of our Administration. I hope that things will get better and that they will not send bomb to Israel

  • Jean Mallin

    I am an American Jew and I prayed that Netanyahu would be elected. As Jews, wherever we are, we need his strength.
    Thank you and bless our beloved Israel.
    Jean Mallin

  • jeanlipchin

    Thank you Naomi for your posts, thank you for all your work! May G-d be with you in everything you do!

    Yet If it is G-d’s will that Israel be no more, how can this be stopped?

    • Norma Silver

      Jean, In Holy Scriptures, it states that Israel will be the place where Messiah will come and reign in Jerusalem! I believe G-d’s Word to be true! It is wonderful that Ha Shem is clear with His will for us. Many blessings to you.

  • Gary Fidel

    The government that has now been formed raises significant questions regarding rights of women and the rights of the LGBT community. The attack on Women at the Wall for reading the Torah shocked many in the American Jewish community. As did the recent idiotic position taken by the ultra-religious who now hold a powerful position in the government supporting attempts to “reform” LGBT individuals. The truth is that both these positions are viewed by most American Jews as being similar to those held by Islamic followers of Shariah law. By joining himself “at the hip” with those who believe that women and LGBT Jews must accept second class citizenship, the Prime Minister has started down a road that will result in catastrophic loss of support for him and for Israel among American Jews — and this has nothing to do with the Palestinian question. I for one cannot comprehend how you can support this government given that it now consists of members who despise women and those in the LGBT

  • Judy

    Thanks for reiterating how it really is: the true facts…