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.


Giving Thanks

It’s awfully late, past midnight, and I should be going to sleep instead of sitting here writing this. But somehow I can’t allow this day to end without talking about it to someone.

I am trying to find my feet. To know where it is I am now that the world as we know it doesn’t seem to exist anymore. The daily murder of Jewish children by armed, adult men wasn’t supposed to happen anymore.

Not to my generation. The world had learned a lesson, cried a tear, placed a memorial wreath. It was horrified at the practical results of the ideology of anti-Semitism. We Jews had forgiven, if not forgotten.
Taken the reparations. Bought Volkswagen cars and De Dietrich dishwashers…. Now, it was supposed to be a land dispute with neighbors we were embroiled in..

The hotel blown up in Nairobi reminded me of the Park Hotel in Netanya, blown up on Seder eve. I was there. I knew exactly how those people in the lobby felt, and the ones in their rooms who spoke about the shattering of glass, the slivers that flew past their faces. The holiday turned nightmare. The family get together that will scar and sear the family’s memory for as long as they live, even if they walked away without a scratch. I cannot even begin to imagine how an injury or death would affect the family.

I sat all day thinking: the world as I know it has disappeared. Well, not all day. Because for us Israeli-Americans today was also Thanksgiving. It’s a day we’ve been spending together, eating turkey, here in the Middle East, for thirty years. My Israeli-born children insist on it. So, the raw turkey was sitting on the counter, and the green apples in the bowl waiting to be peeled for the pie. The sweet potatoes, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn muffins were all still raw ingredients.

I wondered: How can I go on? Is it right for me to go on, prepare a family dinner, an evening of laughter with sons, daughters, grandchildren, great-grandparents? I thought of calling everyone up and canceling. But then, what to do with all this food? Reluctantly, I set about making Thanksgiving dinner.

And when the turkey was crisp and brown, the pie bubbling with fragrant juice, the potatoes mashed, the sweet potatoes baked…I heard the news on the radio suddenly switch from talking about Mombasa, to talking about Beit Shean.

Armed men with submachine guns opening fire on people standing on line to vote. Men with grenades. Six dead, twenty injured. In a sleepy little town. People there were being asked not to go out of their homes, because a gunman might still be on the loose.

A sense of panic went through me. Was this, then, war? Would they be blowing up cars on the highway? Attacking the trains? Could we really get into the car and make the hour and a half ride to Netanya to bring our holiday meal and cheer to Mom and Dad, who can’t get around anymore?

Mom – who lived through Auschwitz. And Dad, who just had his ninetieth birthday, who lost his first wife and two small children to the gas chambers? Should we cancel on them, stay home, lock the doors, draw the curtains, shut off the lights?

My daughter told me she was taking her three children to Mom and Dad, whatever I decided to do. So did my son and his wife, who were both at the Passover Massacre just a few months back. My children weren’t afraid. Weren’t about to give up or give in, or stop living, or stop feeling joy, stop celebrating being alive and having a family and living in the Jewish State.

Just yesterday, this same daughter spent the evening with her sister in law, whose young husband is dying of cancer. A handsome father of four. Thirty-eight years old. His little girl crawled into bed beside her father, who can no longer see, and asked: “Do you know who this is?” And he answered: “Of course. You have your own scent. Like a flower. Do you know,” he asked her, “how much I love you?”

My daughter wanted our family to be together this Thanksgiving. And so I, reluctantly, full of fears, loaded my car with a box full of a Thanksgiving feast. In the beginning of the journey, I watched every car on the highway nervously. We said the travel prayer, asking God to let us come and go safely, a prayer we have been saying for forty years, long before the Intifada, or Oslo made it necessary. I felt better after that. I tried not to think about the elections which will decide the course of Israeli history.

And you know what? When we arrived, safely, unpacked the food, set the table, we did forget, for a little while. Surrounded by all the people I love, passing the warm, good food around the table, giving some comfort to Mom and Dad, seeing some smiles on their faces as we invaded their small, quiet world with our talk and laughter, and small children that made a mess, spinning Chanukah dreidels, eating gold foil wrapped chocolate money, setting up plastic bowling pins on the living room carpet, and spreading playing cards over the couch. I had somehow entered the old world again, the good world, the world I grew up in, the world in which I raised my own four children.

It was, for an hour or two at least, a reminder of all those things we are fighting so hard for, we Israeli Jews. All the things we so deserve after all that has happened to us.

I knew the feeling would not last, because there were fellow Jews to mourn over, and that couldn’t, shouldn’t be forgotten. We needed to bring that into the world we are creating, day by day. But for those few hours, I felt great thanks for the things that God in His goodness, has granted me to rejoice in.

I’m going to sleep now. I don’t know how I’ll feel in the morning. But I’m hoping some of that good, old world I love will force its shape, insist on its place in the world I inhabit, even as corrupt men full of sickening evil insist on reshaping it in their own image. But I have learned something: I will see many more days of thanksgiving, if only I have the courage to insist upon them.

God bless you all. Have a Happy Chanukah. Insist on it.

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