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

High Holidays in Israel

It’s always around the holidays that I am reminded why I left America and moved to this little patch of Jewish land in the middle of the Middle East.

After all, what was so bad in America? I lived in a thriving Jewish community in New York, where there were kosher take-out places, synagogues, and large congregations of religious Jews. I didn’t suffer any overt sense of anti-Semitism. I was free to practice my religion, my customs.

Yes, all true. But I never walked down the street and found chicken feathers from someone who had just done kapparot. I never saw a large, roped-off square with hundreds of Chassidim who were choosing their lulav and etrog. I never saw street corners all over the city taken over by young men selling pre-fab sukkah booths. And I never saw crowds of children choosing their sukkah decorations and their Torah flags for Simchat Torah.

I never heard the silence of a whole city, whose cars had ceased to run, whose stores were shuttered, on Yom Kippur. I never felt that it was my place, a Jewish city, a Jewish country, that was totally involved in preparing for a Jewish holiday. A city that belonged to me by rights of ancestry and thousands of years of uninterrupted tradition.

I never felt the rush in the supermarkets as people stocked up for a three-day holiday. And I certainly never bought kosher challah that was still warm from coming out of the oven in a supermarket. And waiting on check-out lines, I never felt connected to the people behind me and in front of me as I checked out their carts to see how they, too, were preparing their festive meals for many guests, getting ideas from them and hopefully giving them a few.

And standing outside my front door, I never heard the sound of the shofar fill the air from packed synagogues all over the neighborhood, branding the very airwaves with a special meaning, filling the crisp Jerusalem air with the music of my people.

And I never had the experience of knowing that every, single person around me, every neighbor, every resident of the entire city and country was aware that it was a holiday, and in some way participated in it.

Despite all the difficulties, the worries, the fears, and hardships which are sometimes the lot of the Jews of Israel, each time the holidays roll around, I get reminded once again all the blessings that became mine because I took the path less traveled by and joined my brothers and sisters in the land of the Jews, leaving my birthplace behind me.

Happy Holidays.

2 comments to High Holidays in Israel

  • Naomi Ragen

    Hi Carol,
    I left America in 1971, soon after I got married. I had always planned to live in Israel, even though I’d never been there. It was the first question I asked a boy on any date. I think the reason was the Biblical verse: “Leave your father’s house and your birthplace and go to the land I will show you.” That’s God speaking to Abraham. But I took it literally and personally. It just was my dream. Now it’s my address.

  • Carol Cammarata

    After disecting your book,The Tenth Song in my book club, there were many unanswered questions. One question was why you left USA? Was the reason purely for religious reasons or was a part of it political?
    I cried many times while reading your book. I am not a religious person but a spiritual person. I felt you could have placed a Sicilian family in the book and it would have not made much difference. What was the main reason you wrote this? I have a hard time discuss the author’s meaning because believe the only true answer must come from the author and all else is only speculation.