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

Cry, the Beloved City

I remember the first time I saw Jerusalem. I was a young bride, and I’d only been in the country for a few days. My husband and I took a bus from our absorption center in Kfar Chabad. As we wound our way through the forests, higher and higher, I finally glimpsed it in the distance: a white, shining vision hovering somewhere between heaven and earth. My heart contracted the magical way it does, I suppose, when one glimpses the person you sense will be the love of your life.

Jerusalem was more a prayer than a place; a direction in which to turn one’s most exalted spiritual longings. “Next year in Jerusalem” we said every Passover.

I meant it.

When I finally arrived at long last, the fact that the reality did not fall short of my dreams was nothing less than miraculous. How can you explain to someone what it means for a believing Jew to touch the last remaining stones of the Holy Temple, G-d’s chosen dwelling place on earth?

Under pre-1967 Arab control, the Wall had been off-limits to Jews; the Jewish Quarter destroyed; and Jewish graves from the Mount of Olives desecrated, its gravestones used to pave the roads.

The Six Day War put an end to all that. Jews, Moslems, and Arabs could visit Jerusalem’s holy places undisturbed.

On my first visit to Jerusalem, I walked though the Arab shuks and visited the stores on the eastern side of the city. There was graciousness in the shopkeepers, and a sense of serenity. Over time, we all forgot what it had been like when the city had been divided. We let the wounds from the vandalism of Jewish holy places under Moslem-control heal.

As the years went by, I saw life in the city gradually change. Stabbings convinced us we were not welcome in the Arab part of Jerusalem, and we stopped going. Arab Jerusalemites, however, felt no such discomfort. They were — and still are — frequent and welcome visitors to Jewish shops, ice cream parlors, and malls.

The first time a bus blew up in the center of Jerusalem, special burial volunteers had to scrape human flesh from second story balconies in the center of town. It took days to wash the blood stains off Jerusalem’s streets. And I thought: Only someone with no faith in G-d, no sense of the holiness of this, His City, could have allowed this unforgivable desecration.

These people, and their supporters, have no rights in this city. No, no rights at all. Not to pass through her streets, to touch her stones, to breathe her air, or to whisper G-d’s name in her holy places. They don’t even have the right to enter their own holy places, which would be desecrated by their presence.

Five wars, and the entire Arab world had no power to wrest Jerusalem from the caring and respectful hands of the Jewish people. And now, the worst government in Israel’s history, rejected by 80% of the public, is rushing to hand it over to Yasir Arafat. I don’t know why the world isn’t connecting the dots: there were no Christmas celebrations of note in Bethlehem this year because Arafat controls the city, and his gunmen have turned the birthplace of Jesus into an arsenal and battleground. In Indonesia this year, Moslems blew up Christian worshippers in their churches during Christmas Mass. If only the Moslems’ fervent, militant respect for their own holy places extended to those of other faiths…

To such a man, and such a people, you do not turn over the well-being of some of the most sacred religious sites in the world. Certainly not after watching them plow under the Tomb of Joseph and the ancient synagogue in Jericho. You certainly don’t give them any sovereignty over the Temple Mount, from which they can machine-gun Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall. Is anyone truly naive enough to think it won’t happen once the Israeli army withdraws?

Only, perhaps, the gang of four, who are busy facilitating this sacrilege: Ehud Barak, Yossi Beilin, ShimonPeres, and Yossi Sarid. Those avowed secular dreamers, whose vision of Israel is a bustling, godless industrial center like Hong Kong, are now aligned with the greedy, equally godless religious hypocrites like Shas. Together, they’ve managed to reduce Jerusalem to one more casino chip thrown with reckless abandon onto the gambling table on which they have already lost our security, our peace of mind, and our inalienable moral and historic claim to this place, the epicenter of three-thousand years of Jewish faith, hopes and dreams.

It is an illegal act of the most profound immorality. It will not go unchallenged. And those responsible will never be forgiven.

Yet, despite the despair of these terrible times, as a long-time Jerusalemite, I cannot but hope that there will be another Chanukah miracle; a light ignited in the darkness from an almost empty jug of hope.

“For if I forget thee oh Jerusalem, I forget my right hand.”

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