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

Here We Go Again

When the pipe bomb went off in the lively seaside village of Netanya recently, I remember thinking: Oh no. Here we go again.

The bombings.

The “I can’t condone” of the Palestinians (why can’t they say “We condemn?”)  The hemming and hawing of the politicians. And, sure enough, there was our Prime Minister talking about boxing matches, and how it was true that in a fight you sometimes had to absorb blows, but that we, Israel, would deliver the final “knock out.”

My dear, 86 year-old father-in-law was in a bank only a few blocks from the blast. Both he and my dear mother-in-law, who survived Auschwitz and slave labor marches, have lived in Netanya for 22 years. Often they tell us they have been the best years of their lives.

And so, when I think of Mr. Barak’s boxing ring image, I wonder where my in-laws fit in. Does Mr. Barak mean to stand behind them, shove them into the ring and sit back and watch the results? Isn’t a government supposed to fight the battles of citizens like my in-laws? Isn’t that what a government of an independent state fights so hard to win independence for?

Just a few weeks ago as part of the peace accords, Mr. Barak opened the jails and let Palestinians convicted of aiding, abetting (and in certain cases, actually committing) murder out. One of the men released was involved in the kidnapping and murder of Israeli soldier Nachshon Wachsman. At a press conference, Nachshon’s mother, Esther, pointed out that “A country has to be worthy of the sacrifices its citizens make to defend it. A country which forgives those who murder and injure and destroy its citizens, has lost the moral right to demand these kind of sacrifices.”

I discussed this subject with some friends, firm Barak supporters, people who believe deeply in the peace process. One of them was a man who saw the heaviest fighting in the Yom Kippur War, a battle in which only five tanks out of 28 remained after Egyptian shelling on the way to cross the canal.

He is a brave man, a good man, a war hero. He loves Israel with all his heart. “These terrorist attacks are terrible,” he acknowledged. “But we can’t let the extremists deter us from pursuing what is best for our country. And that is peace. Once the Palestinians have something to cherish, they won’t want to endanger it with these kinds of attacks. If you have nothing to lose, you become more extreme.”

Would he agree, I asked him, that everyone in the country is divided over one central point: Not over peace. Everyone wants peace. But on  whether, down the road, after all the agreements are hammered out and signed and ratified and implemented, whether that precious thing will happen? Will it exist — real, touchable, feelable. A peace not of words, but of deeds? A peace where my father and mother- in- law won’t be shoved into boxing rings with murderers. Where they, and all the other men, women and children of Israel, will be beyond the line of fire?

He agreed. “But think about it,” he continued. “It will make no sense for the Palestinians to encourage terrorism after they have a state and a stable economy and all the opportunities to grow. Things will be good for them. Why would they want to endanger that?”

“And since when has good sense ever played any part in the history of the Middle East?”, I couldn’t help replying.

And in the meantime, as we are pursuing this beautiful, ephemeral, shining ideal that is out there in the distance, pursuing it even though we admit to ourselves it may all be a mirage — like some precious spring of water conjured out of longing by desert wanderers dying of thirst – what of the reality?

As we move towards the dream, are we not divesting ourselves of all the most precious reasons the Jews had to found the Jewish State in the first place? Relinquishing our ability to defend ourselves, to punish those who attack us? After all, the bombs in Netanya were put together in areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority. If, as the police and army have been telling us ever since Oslo and the new peace rhetoric became popular and acceptable, that “we’ll do our best, but such attacks are impossible to prevent altogether” giving the world reason to say, as the BBC did after the pipe bomb in Netanya: that the Israelis “are used” to these attacks being part of the peace process, then what, in heaven’s name, is there left for us?

Is it, to paraphrase the ultimate obscenity of terrorism expert Yoram Schweitzer: “We can learn to live with terrorism. After all, traffic accidents claim many more victims ?”

I don’t think any human, for any reason however lofty, should be asked to learn to live with terrorism. If we become a country that is unlivable, indefensible, and completely without the basic national self-worth to reject such attacks as the heinous crimes they are, then we have no choice but to ask ourselves: What reason does our State have to exist at all?

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