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.


From a Distance: Vive la difference!

Last Friday my husband and I took our grandsons to the beach. Every time we got to an intersection, we were surrounded by a swarm of youngsters wearing election campaign hats and T-shirts, who offered us car stickers or literature promoting their candidates.

Big banners waved in the breeze, reading: “Only Netanyahu,” or “Ehud Barak, Israel Wants a Change.” At the Bnei Raban intersection, I saw young boys in payot and black suits talking quietly and earnestly to young people in shorts and green-lettered Meretz caps.

No voices were raised. No one was trying to prevent anyone else from reaching the cars, or hanging up their banners. In fact, both sides seemed to be enjoying the rare contact, the chance to debate some of the issues with an actual member of the foreign tribe they were fighting so hard to defeat.

Because in Israeli society the lives of these young people rarely intersect. There are so few opportunities for them to talk seriously about the differences between them.

While no once denies there were nasty confrontations here and there, for the most part the racist and often incendiary rhetoric of the election campaign came from the leadership, not the people. And the slogans, the insults, and the political manipulation of insults to rile up the basically good-natured populace didn’t really work, as far as I could see.

To be sure, out in the spring air, political activists could be seen giving out Tommy Lapid’s anti-haredi newsletter comparing the benefits given soldiers to those given yeshiva students, while Aguda’s young boys were happily distributing Shabbat candles. Each of them looked earnest and dedicated and hardworking and convinced of their own particular truth. Neither seemed bent on preventing the other from trying to get their point across.

What a country! I thought, recalling the American political campaigns of my youth. Aside from the passion surrounding the Vietnam War, how dull those elections were – “It’s the economy, stupid,” the basic theme of almost every single one of them.

In contrast, Israel faces so many profound issues that affect people’s lives, touch their hearts, and inflame their imaginations.

It’s not just the peace process; it’s how peace will look. There is no question that the vision of heaven on earth for Meretz will look radically different than for a member of Agudat Yisrael.

Whose vision will prevail, is, of course, what elections are all about. But given the tensions of our society, and the frequency with which governments rise and fall, it is safe to say that we cannot expect – nor should we want – the democratic process to melt away the valid differences between us.

AT Nitzanim, I watched a handsome, happy Russian family enjoying the sun and surf on the seashore, parents building sand castles with their charming blonde kids. On the road home, stopped at a light, I glanced inside the car beside me and saw a haredi family dressed in its Shabbat finery – dark-haired little boys in their white shirts and payot, a lovely young mother, a distinguished-looking father at the wheel – driving to Jerusalem, perhaps to spend Shabbat with the grandparents.

How much poorer and duller a place our country would be without the two of them, with all their differences, and all their conflicts. Who says that the solution is for one to defeat the other, with one set of values, one lifestyle taking over?

And now the elections are over. No matter which candidates won, the entire country can only really win if we continue to respect and give credence to the ideas of everyone who participated, including the minorities.

Respect. And compassion, and love.

Because we are a very small country, and wherever you go there is an intersection. If only we can bring ourselves to stop there a while, in between elections, instead of rushing past each other with barely a glance, our minds made up, our hearts stony and solid, wallowing in self-righteousness.

If only we could say that one truth doesn’t have to cancel out the other, no matter who got more votes; that the views from both sides of the fence are valid, both important, both valuable contributions to our understanding of who we are as a people, as a nation.

And the young people that were out there, working so hard to make the country a better place according to their own particular formula, shouldn’t we all feel proud of them, every single one?

Shouldn’t we hope that after the banners are torn to tatters, and the stickers peeled off the cars, that they’ll remember the talks they had with their opponents at the intersections of our beautiful, diverse, and vibrant young state?

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