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.

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 - 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.

October 2016 - The 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 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.


Enough Gravestones

Holocaust Remembrance Day has come and gone. The sirens have sounded, the tears have dried. The crowds at Yad VaShem and other Holocaust memorial and educational sites have thinned to average. But for those who actually lived through those indescribable times, nothing really ever changes. For survivors, the struggle to keep going, to keep the night terrors, the sadness, the tragic physical and mental ravages of those times from gaining the upper hand is a constant, year-round battle.

There are 360,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel, the largest single population anywhere in the world. Two-thirds of them are elderly, one-third are child survivors. For elderly survivors who remember a time when illness, disability or weakness meant instant death, facing the normal stresses of the aging process can be traumatic. In addition to physical vulnerability, the death of aging friends and loved ones, isolation for those who lost everyone in the war, can turn old age into a living hell.

In a study undertaken by the JDC-Brookdale Institute of Gerontology and Human Development, researchers Jenny Brodsky and Yaron King found that Israel’s survivor population of 65 and over were more vulnerable than the general population, more isolated, and had more difficulty washing, dressing and feeding themselves. Yet, researchers found, the percentage receiving long-term care services was lower than that of the general population. The study also showed that significant numbers of elderly survivors were dissatisfied with their social life, that they have unmet social and emotional needs. That they were often lonely.

In the last 50 years, 500 million to one billion dollars have been spent in building Holocaust memorials whose main purpose is to serve as tombstones. Moreover, while the 1999 Directory of Associations of Holocaust Organizations lists over 150 organizations world-wide that deal with “holocaust programming, awareness, education and research,” less than a handful actually give emotional, psychological, and physical aid to survivors.

The most important of these is AMCHA, The National Israeli Center for Psychosocial Support of Survivors of the Holocaust and the Second Generation. Amazingly, AMCHA is the only organization in Israel providing a full range of psychosocial and other services to the community of Holocaust survivors and their families. This includes intensive individual and group counseling, social clubs and support groups.

Doesn’t Israel’s Mental Health Services reach out to survivors? I asked AMCHA’S dedicated executive director, John Lemberger. “Israel’s mental health clinics are for sick people,” he tells me. “Holocaust survivors are perfectly normal people who went through an abnormal situation.”

In addition to the elderly, AMCHA also serves middle-aged survivors who were children during the war. “You have 120,000 people with blurred memories, no identity, who’ve spent the last fifty years finding out their real name.”

Take Rose, for example. Rose, who was nine-years old when she was sent to England with her two sisters on the Kindertransport, came to AMCHA fifty years later following her sister’s suicide and the illness of her husband and two of her three grown children. As a result of the therapy and support she received. Rose became a volunteer herself.

And finally, AMCHA serves the needs of children trying to cope with their parents’ pain: the second generation of survivors whose upbringings may have been shaped by the form of their parents’ coping strategies – ranging from constant discussions of the horrors to absolute silence.

Despite the invaluable work it does, and the unbelievable fact that it is doing it almost alone out there, AMCHA is operating on a shoestring budget that allows it to reach only 3,000 survivors in Israel. Even with the great majority of its staff being trained volunteers, AMCHA still has had an operating budget deficit of about 250,000 NIS for each of the past two years, a fact which prevents it from reaching its kind and compassionate hand into the lives of the great majority of Israel’s survivors.

One reads in the papers all the time about the millions and millions of dollars that survivors have coming to them from the Swiss banks, and insurance companies, and Jewish properties in Eastern Europe. It is thought that a significant portion of these funds will not be returnable to living survivors and their heirs. Some have proposed dividing up the millions and giving each survivor five or six hundred dollars. Others have suggested investing it in still more Holocaust memorials and research centers. Perhaps were we 150 years after the Holocaust these suggestions would be reasonable. Given the fact that we are still coping with the damage and pain of living victims, they are not.

Let’s not build anymore tombstones to honor the dead. Instead, the time has come to help the living feel the joy of having survived. There isn’t much time left.

Let’s give AMCHA the millions. They’ll know what to do with it.

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