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.


Desecrating God’s Name

The role of Chief Rabbi of Israel is the product of the catastrophic mingling of religion and politics. Chosen for their political connections rather than their scholarship or exemplary personal life (although past chief rabbis have been blessed with both), the role of chief rabbi is becoming an embarrassment not only to the state but to the Jewish religion as well.

When the last chief rabbis were chosen, the Ashkenazi choice, a former rabbi of Tel Aviv, was faced with numerous allegations of sexual harassment by young men, allegations that were quickly denied and ignored. And now, the Rishon LeZion, his Sephardi counterpart, is embroiled in a bizarre case of kidnapping and assault involving the unwelcome – by the family, not by the girl – 17-year-old suitor of his 18-year-old daughter, Ayala.

According to newspaper reports and contradictory comments about the family’s growing legal team (a lawyer for the rebbitzen and one for the daughter so far, and counting ) the rabbi’s daughter found a young man to her liking through a chat room on the Internet. Appalled at this breach of religious etiquette, in which the parents have the exclusive right to choose the life partner of their child, Rebbitzen Mazal allegedly enlisted the help of her 31-year-old son, Meir, described as having a “rich criminal past,” who’d left home and religion at 13, and who – despite his distance from the family – was apparently only too happy to contribute his expertise in solving this problem.

Together with two of his Arab friends from the village of Kalansuwa, he allegedly forced his sister to arrange a meeting with her boyfriend, who was then stuffed into a car and badly beaten in various locations, including the living room of Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who was next door sleeping (righteously and innocently, if he or his newly-hired PR team is to be believed).

Among other indignities, the suitor had his peyot cut off and his skull cap sliced in two.

The rabbi’s wife, son and friends, and his hapless daughter, have all been arrested. Meir Amar has been remanded. The wife and daughter are now under house arrest.

The rabbi himself, back in the country after a quick trip to Thailand to help the victims of the tsunami, was questioned by police on Tuesday concerning his personal disaster.

The spin that the rabbi’s camp is now attempting to put on the story includes the following lines: “Thank the Lord, I have 12 children.” The son – who admits to the assault – is “not really part of the family….”

Which leaves unanswered the question of how Meir Amar knew about the intimate details of his sister’s romantic life. Or why someone totally removed from religion would be so outraged that his 18-year-old sister was going out with a religious boy she happened to meet by herself.

“Everybody has problems with their kids,” to quote Rabbi Amar’s statement published in the press. “The worst part is that the publication of this story will be a desecration of God’s name.”

Silly me, I thought putting a young man into the hospital with multiple injuries was a desecration of God’s name. I thought it was having a chief rabbi who doesn’t understand it was the deed, not its publication, that was a desecration of God’s name.

But I’m only a simple religious Jew not politically connected to any well-bankrolled religious party.

Perhaps the time has come for the State of Israel to abolish the office of chief rabbi and allow the simple, religious Jews of Israel to go back to the time-honored method of choosing their religious leaders by merit, not via backroom political horse-trading.

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