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.


Jerusalem, Before Passover

I went to the shuk this morning to get my carp for the gefilte fish that no Passover can be without. Although I left home early, I still expected to wait on a crowded line behind nine or ten other harried housewives. The Thursday morning before any holiday is a madhouse in Mahane Yehuda. To my surprise, I was the only person there. I was delighted, of course, but a bit worried too. What’s going on? I asked Rahamim, the fish man. I expected to wait at least a half hour. He shrugged. It was a combination of things, he said. First, the light rail transit system that is supposed to sleekly bring Jerusalem’s public transport  into the future, but which has not yet started running, has made it close to impossible to get to the shuk, as buses that would sail down the main street, Jaffa Road, have all been re-routed. In addition, many people just don’t have the money to spend they once did, when banks gave generous overdrafts, and jobs were plentiful.

Still, the shuk was far from empty. The stalls selling traditional peanut and coconut pesach cookies were overflowing with stock. And the man with the pita stand was explaining to a customer that she wouldn’t get a cheaper price on pita bread anywhere in Israel. Many stores already had signs up asking customers not to bring in any leavened bread as the store was already kosher for Passover.

But, what can I say, it was awfully quiet considering. The entire length of Jaffa Road, empty of all cars and buses in anticipation of the train that’s been postponed until August, seemed eerily silent. On the newsstands, headlines scream about new criminal proceedings started against Avigdor Leiberman, or Bibi Netanyahu’s announced plans to sue TV Channel 10 for libelous comments (I hope he wins! They are dreks.). On the middle pages, we read about the struggle of 16 year-old Daniel (we all pray for his recovery) who is fighting for his life after a school bus he was riding was hit by a Hamas missile from Gaza. This or that commentator points out that a full-out war with Hamas is just a matter of time.

With all these things hanging over our heads, Israelis are still buying their matza, preparing their fish, and getting ready to host or be hosted. There is a subdued mood nationwide, more families than ever depending on charitable donations to fill their seder plates, a feeling of girding our loins for the next terror ship from Turkey, the next round of missiles, that next blood libel. But what is beautiful about the Israeli people is that they can do it all: plan, worry, celebrate, prepare, rejoice, give, take, and never miss a beat, because Israelis are alive, and each day the country, and its people, move forward with strength and hope, full of fears, yet fearlessly.

Happy Passover. Next Year in Jerusalem.

22 comments to Jerusalem, Before Passover

  • This forum needed shkiang up and you’ve just done that. Great post!

  • there is not a book that you have written that have not read,,,,,,,,,,I just wish you could write then faster,,,,,I am leaving for Isreal mid May to volunteer on an army base,,,,,,I was in Israel last April on a five star experience which was great but after that I decided my next trip even for three weeks was to give back……….it is funny I decided before I read the Tenth Song,,,,,,,,,,,,what a truly great story definitely based on so much truth,,,,,,,,,thank you for putting history ([past and present) in a way that all should understand…….you also gave strength to people who were afraid to think for themselves a “shot”.
    I wish you and yours a Happy Passover,,,,,,,Lynne Elster

  • Carol Eberwein

    Thank you for sharing daily Israeli
    life with me.It brings me to tears
    of longing for my Israeli family
    and life.
    Hag Sameach

  • Shoshana

    Hi Naomi,

    Thank you for your uplifting words – sadness and happiness mixed together with the strength of the Jewish people. As is so often said, ‘Living in Israel is hard but good’.
    May you and your family have a Happy Pesach.
    Shoshana Kent

  • Keren

    Dear Naomi,
    May Hashem grant you and yours a blessed and peaceful Pesach. Your article is very uplifting. My husband and I are making our ‘pilot trip’ G-d willing in late May to mid June. We are happy, excited, and apprehensive all at the same time.
    I think sometimes to myself how at 55 can I pack up and move away from all of my family and friends and start a new life? I know it won’t be easy, and I sure will miss my children and my almost 4 yr. old grandson. But I know we are doing the right thing. Just being able to celebrate holidays like Pesach the way they are meant to be, is worth it. And when people ask me how I can move to such a dangerous place, well I tell them that when I was there in 2005 I felt safe and had a wonderful time in Netanya (which is where we rented a small house)and everywhere else we travelled while there.
    Your words have reminded me that as Jewish mother and wife, I can do this, because thousands of other Jewish families have done it and continue to do it every day! We can do it because Israel is Hashem’s land and we are His people. We don’t do it with our own power we live under the protective shade of the Almighty, He gives us the strength we need to live in Eretz HaKadosh from day to day.
    G-d willing when we finally arrive with our bags in hand to stay for good, that is how it will be for us too.
    So thank you for your thoughts and your encouragement too.
    Chag Sameach Pesach!
    Keren & Ilan

  • Thanks for putting into words the way so many of us feel. I’ll be following your posts. Hag Sameach.

  • Irmgard Gesund

    Dear Naomi,

    As so many of your other correspondents have said, thankyou for your wonderful words–both comforting and uplifting. They are comforting to us, because we feel such pain at the unjust treatment and threats all Israel is enduring. You acknowledge these same feelings yet are somehow able to absorb what to us is so terrifying. Your words are uplifting because they help us to reaffirm our own faith and courage.

    Please keep your posts coming. They mean so much.
    With every wish to you for a time of family joy this Pesah.
    Irmgard Gesund

  • Dick

    Even when your sad, or worried you make Jerusalem and it’s people so beautiful.

    Wish I was there.

  • Steven Bernstein

    Dear Ms. Ragen,

    Thanks very much for this wonderful article. I visited Mahane
    Yehuda market a number of times when I was in Jerusalem last year; but it’s hard to picture with just a few people. But no trouble picturing Jaffa Street empty–as it is that way on Shabbat, every week. Your words and books are truly memorable.

    Chag Sameach,

    Steven Bernstein

  • Donald Scharoff

    Shalom Naomi,

    As usual your way with words, combined with a unique sense of spirit, has produced a vivid picture for all of us to behold. I wish you and your family and indeed all my Israeli brothers and sisters Chag Sameach L’Pesach.

  • Lynn Sharon

    Nostalgia with every word. I can still feel the energy and excitement of Mahane Yehuda before every holiday; the aroma, the frenzy; the music of the shouts spelling out the metziot. You brought it all back to me. But even here in the Israel boondocks, there is a unique sense of urgency as my neighbors sponja every nook and cranny of their modest homes. Hag Sameach my dear Naomi!

  • Bonnie Eizikovitz

    Naomi, Kol Hakavod to you and all of Israel for carrying on, for your stoic, no nonsense approach to life. I pray that one day, yes, the world will wake up from its dream that Israel is the enemy, not the victim. When we say at the seder, “ella, she’b’chol dor va’dor, omdim aleinu l’chaloteinu”, we’re not kidding. Chag Kasher v’Sameach-enjoy a blessed holiday with your dear family.

  • Victor Hayim Tordjman

    Dear Naomi Ragen,
    I don’t usually reply to articles. But then you are quite different. For the last , what?twenty years I ahev been reading faithfully, almost religiously every one of your pages. From all I read you are Datia if not outspokenly Haredit, but your outlook and language are of a positive Hilonit, steeped in solid Jewish tradition. You have a great “z’chuss” with me: you keep the little flame alive, the “Ner Tamid” which is the symbol of what we Jews are here for: the hope and faith of mankind! May He who leads us all give you many more years of blessed creativity and may you rejoice in a wonderful Kosher and Joyous Pessah which will help to obliterate the sad memories of that Pessah at the Plaza Hotel in Nethanya.
    Le Shana Habaa biYerushalayim habenuya le talpiot !
    Yours with admiration
    Vitor Hayim Tordjman ,Herzlia


    Let us pray for Jerusalem to flourish until everyone recognizes Hashem is one & his name is one!

  • Lois Graber

    Dear Naomi,
    Thank you for your wonderful and comforting words. I’m so tired of telling everyone I know not to be afraid to go to Israel. I’ve been there many times and have never been afraid. I figure whatever happens to my people will also happen to me, so I leave it in G-d’s hands. My grandson served in the IDF as a lone soldier and is now working and living in Tel Aviv. When I visited him on base I realized that all our soldiers were my children. May G-d bless our people and our homeland Israel.
    Hag Sameach, Lois

  • Naomi Romm

    Thank you dear Naomi for capturing the spirit of Pesach in Israel. We are truly a resilient people with an abiding faith in a merciful G-d who will never abandon us. May we all be zocher to have our next year and all the years after in Jerusalem.

  • Mickey Oberman


    Thank you for your wonderful, uplifting letter.

    Sitting safely at my desk in Toronto makes me feel rather guilty but at 78 I wouldn’t be of much use as I was in 1991 when I was a mere 58 and volunteered with Sar El.

    I wish you and all of Israel Hag Sameach.
    Have a very Happy Pesach.

    Mickey Oberman

  • MeraLee

    Hi Naomi!

    I’ve recently been traveling in S. Afrca, and then in Cost Rica for the Bat Mitzvah of my granddaughter, Phoebe. There is a charming small synagogue in San Jose–80 families in the congregation, from around the world—-some retired there, some with young children in the school. There are two Rabbis–husband and wife—Phoebe “skypped” with them before arriving in Costa Rica. Lovely service—she did beautifully—warm, friendly congregation welcomed the 11 of our family—-and then we did a family “ecology” trip to the jungle. For a while now, I have been dealing with awful arm pain—trying physical therapy and acupuncture to avoid surgery—most difficult thing is how tiring constant pain can be. But—it’s time to bake the Passover cakes and cookie—and to help my youngest daughter, Tami, cook for the Seder on Monday. Saved “best for last”—EXCITING NEWS: TAMI IS PREGNANT—due in September. Lots of Love, MeraLee

  • Brian Israelstam

    Dear Naomi,
    As usual, your words are magic. Especially your last sentence. Hopefully, one day this upside-down world will wake up and see us (Israel and Israelis) for who we really are. Alive and hopeful. Survivors against all odds.
    May you and your family and friends have a happy Passover.
    חג שמח
    Kindly Yours