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

Egged and the Taliban

I can’t remember the last time I took a bus in Jerusalem.

But Monday morning, in the throes of a new exercise regimen, I found myself walking down Strauss Street and, as luck would have it, the number 40 bus stopped right in front of me. It’s the bus with the shortest route to my home in Ramot, a neighborhood divided between secular, modern Orthodox, and haredi inhabitants.

The bus was empty when I got on. Completely empty. So I paid my fare, got my receipt, and chose a single seat near the front.

I was happily immersed in an article about Yaddo in Vanity Fair when I was interrupted by an angry haredi man who announced that I needed to move to the back of the bus. I looked up at him, astonished, feeling a flash of what Blacks must have felt in Alabama in 1950.

Now, in the past, I have been willing to accommodate ultra-Orthodox men on public buses. If the buses are crowded, I don’t mind moving next to another woman to free up two seats for such men.
But here I was, sitting alone in a one-seater.

Very calmly, and politely I think, I told him that this was a public bus and I would sit where I liked. He didn’t have to sit next to me, and he didn’t have to look at me.

He shuffled off quietly, taking one of the many, many available seats. And that, I thought, was that.

It wasn’t. A few stops later, another haredi man – this time with the build of a Sumo wrestler – aggressively planted his two feet squarely in front of my seat and, in a loud and abusive tone and in no uncertain terms, demanded that I move to the back of the bus.

At this point, annoyance gave way to Martin Luther King-like outrage. I looked up into his puffy white face set in nasty and determined lines and said, clearly: “When you show me where in the Shulhan Aruch [Code of Jewish Law] it says I can’t sit in this seat, I will move.

“Until then,” I suggested helpfully, “get out of my face.”

He didn’t take my suggestion but continued to rant and rave. I am absolutely confident that only the prohibitions against touching a woman (that actually are in the Shulchan Aruch) saved me from being bodily hauled from my seat.

Eventually, realizing he’d used up whatever male powers he thought he possessed to whip me into obedience, he moved away, muttering loudly, finally squeezing his ample frame into one of the many available seats in the self-proclaimed “men’s section.”

The entire ride, I continued to be the target of intermittent abuse until he finally got off, not forgetting to hurl a final nasty farewell.

“You’re a great tzaddik,” I retorted, not looking up.

ALL THIS TIME, the bus driver said nothing, even though it was clear to him what was happening. As my stop neared, I glanced at the women dutifully crowded into the back. Many of them were engrossed in reciting Psalms. I suppose that’s one solution.

However, once I reached home I decided to call Egged’s public complaint department in Jerusalem. Does Egged, which enjoys government subsidies and owns the exclusive franchise to run public transportation in the nation’s capital, have a policy that women must sit on the back of the bus?

And if they do, why not put a sign on buses informing innocent female passengers of that fact, allowing them to decide whether or not to board? And if there is no such policy, how is it that the driver gave me no protection whatsoever from nonstop harassment during the entire ride?

This is what I was told: “The number 40 bus is a public bus and passengers may sit anywhere they choose. However, on those lines (and number 40 is one) on which 95 percent of the passengers are haredim, we allow the passengers to decide how they want to divide the seating. Egged doesn’t interfere.”

That is certainly true. There was no interference. Even when a passenger was harassed, abused, insulted and intimidated for having the temerity to be a woman who doesn’t want to sit in the back of the bus.

I have a suggestion for Egged. Either put a sign in the front of bus 40 telling women they should go to the back of the bus, or put up one informing all passengers that they are now boarding public transportation, and that if their piety doesn’t allow them to see a woman sitting in the front of a bus, they should take a taxi.

And if not, perhaps the Israeli government should allow the creation of another bus company to fulfill the needs of public transportation in Jerusalem, one that will protect its female passengers from the Jewish Taliban?

12 comments to Egged and the Taliban

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  • […] and why even verbal threats and bullhorns can imply coercion and not just a simple request. In 2004, author Naomi Regan was verbally intimidated and threatened while the bus driver refused to interfere. In 2005, a woman […]

  • […] 2004, novelist Naomi Ragan was harassed on a Mehadrin bus because she was in the wrong seat. Monday morning, in the throes of a new […]

  • M. Laszlo

    Good for you for standing up to these haredi taliban guys! Such discrimination is wrong, as wrong as when blacks in north america were placed into such positions. Religion or no religion, we are all equal and there is no justification for such archaic and primitive “rules”

  • Well, you certainly started something – and good for you. BRAVO!!!!!!

    BUT, will they get the message or they too thick???

  • rg

    You’re a force to be reckened with…..that being said, where is the simple courtesy and respect for one another? And more importantly, to harass and/or embarass an individual? I think not! His individual actions speaks for the kind of person he is….does he treat his Mother, Wife and Sister in the same manner????

  • This story astonishes me. That men(?) in this day and age can behave like this (like the taliban) can go unpunished…… Words fail me.

  • This astonishes me!! Next they will require women to be accompanied by a male relative,
    And the bus driver?? And the other people on the bus?? I always thought Israel to be a caring and protective society. This is plain bullying and hooliganism.

  • Estee

    I say,

    YOU GO GIRL!!! YOU ROCK!!!

  • Anne Elly

    Dear Naomi Ragen,

    I love your books!

    Meanwhile, to solve the bus issue, I suggest that the haredi MEN enter from and go to the back. After a short while, the earlier Orthodox rabbinic ruling that in effect “fences around fences” are not required in the marketplace will be duly respected and honoured!

    Sincerely,
    Anne

  • Oranit Machluf

    dear Mrs. Rage, i would like to express you my sypmpathy and my honor – you are one of the brave women denying the terro of ultraorthodox men in te public busses of jerusalem. A few weeks ago I saw you talking in the report of the journalist Jasmin Caney Mehadrin neged nashim – we – al Jewish women – have to talk about and to arise or voice, if we do not want to be accused in the public busses.
    A week ago I have a trip to Jerusalem. Obviously I used to sit in the back side of autobus feeling more safed there in case of the terrorist attack. But since I saw the report, I decided to use the front side – it is my privilege to set, where I want to. As I did also in Jerusale. Being attacked I woul make a lesson to a Charedi man.Thank you again for arising your voice.