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

Hopes for a New Millennium

Someone recently asked me about my hopes for the new millennium. While I’m getting a little tired of all this millennium business, still, the question got me thinking. I’d like to rephrase it: In the year 2999, what would I like schoolchildren to be writing on their history exams about their millennium? Here is my view of a high school student’s A paper in history.

At the turn of the millennium, Israel finally made peace with its neighbors. A corrupt Palestinian government, headed by terrorist Yasir Arafat was ousted by democratic vote, and the Palestinian people elected a government sincerely devoted to its needs. As a result, there was a tremendous improvement in their economic status, health care, and educational opportunities. Muslim extremists were publicly denounced and the Hamas and Jihad movements disappeared. The murder of Arab women for “family honor” was outlawed by a new generation of educated, moderate Muslim religious leaders, and virtually disappeared from the society.

Palestinians and Israelis began a long-term cooperative economic and social relationship which proved a model for international cooperation. Israel, at peace for the first time in its existence with all its neighbors, was able to concentrate its national energies on social needs.

The tax burden, once amongst the highest in the world, with over fifty percent of all earnings being paid out in income taxes, was slashed, and government bureaucracy, which had long prevented foreign investment, was completely overhauled. As a result, Israel became an investor’s paradise.

Its economic growth was unprecedented in world history, accompanied by the world’s lowest rate of unemployment and the highest per capita income in the world. Huge sections of the country were rebuilt, with housing given out free to all young couples. Free monorail systems replaced dangerous, outdated highways for private cars, and traffic accidents, once a major cause of death and serious injury, became nonexistent.

State-of-the- art hospitals were built, and preventive health care education became widespread, reducing the number of Israelis needing hospitalization and increasing life expectancy to 120 for males, and 150 for females.

Israel’s educational system, a major beneficiary of the diversion of funds from military spending, set world standards. Its pay packages for teachers made them the highest paid professionals in the country, creating competition among the country’s brightest and most creative people for coveted teaching positions in the country’s school system. Students enjoyed brand new elementary and high school campuses, which replaced worn out, often dangerous school buildings. The school day was lengthened, with supplementary classes in art, dance, literature, and sports free to all children wishing to participate. Free, unlimited tutoring became available to all children. As a result, Israel became the first country in the world to have a zero-percent dropout rate, with 100% of all students graduating and going on to higher education. Free university education became the right of every qualified student.

Israel’s pool of professionals attracted further investment, fueling its continued economic growth. A side effect of this was the disappearance of racial stereotypes and pockets of poverty. An example often pointed to was the transformation of the formerly impoverished border town of Kiryat Shmona, which became a world leader in biological and genetic engineering. Its laboratories wiped out such diseases as cancer, AIDS, muscular dystrophy, and virtually every other genetically-transmitted disease known to humanity.

In the religious world, Jewish leaders convened the Sanhedrin for the first time since the destruction of the Jewish Temple. One of the first acts of the supreme religious Jewish body was to establish new takkanot that changed the wedding ceremony, giving women equal rights to dissolve a marriage, and making it against Jewish law for any Rabbi to perform a wedding ceremony without signing the couple on a pre-nuptial agreement that prevented such horrors of the past as extortion of women by husbands in exchange for granting a get; child custody battles; and uneven distribution of marital assets.

A new takkana, based on the interpretation of Rav Huna by Rav Yona B. Avraham in his book “Gates of Repentance,” made the cutting off of a wife-beater’s hands mandatory. As a result, this crime was wiped out. Like the laws of the rebellious son, Rabbis never actually had to enforce this ruling (student note: Not sure. May they did, once or twice? )

Their second act was to make it obligatory for all Talmud scholars to learn a trade or profession so that they never accepted any money for their scholarship, as stipulated by the heretofore ignored opinion of the sage Maimonides.

Their third act was to abolish the strange law preventing certain Jewish sects from eating rice and beans (kitniyot) on Passover.

As a result of these decrees, there were no more agunot or abused women in Israel, no more impoverished families among Talmud scholars , and no more labels on Israel products saying: “Kosher for Passover only for those who eat kitniyot.”

On a personal note, as a Jewish high school senior living in my own country, the wonderful, beautiful Land of Israel, which has been at peace for almost a thousand years, I would like to say I feel really grateful to have been born in this millennium. It must have been terrible for my poor ancestors.

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