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.

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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 - is a chilling tale of the paths that so easily lead us astray, and the darkness within us all. “שטן
Click the book’s cover to learn more.

Watch Valérie Abécasis' interview with Naomi on French Channel 24's Culture program. The interview (in French) begins at the 4:00 minute mark.

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.

Nic Nie MówMay 2017 – The Polish translation of Devil in Jerusalem is published as Nic Nie Mów.

April 2017 – Naomi speaks about her books at the Ivan M. Stettenham Library at the Streicker Centre in New York City.

March 2017 – Naomi tours the Paris region to speak about her new book Les Soeurs Weiss, the French translation of The Sisters Weiss.

January 2017 – Naomi is interviewed by Valérie Abécasis on French Channel 24‘s Culture program. The interview (in French) begins at the 4:00 minute mark.

“LesDecember 2016Les Soeurs Weiss, the French translation of The Sisters Weiss, is published.

October 2016The 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 Sarah 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.


Kindred Spirits

Imagine, if you will, the loneliness of spending most of your life believing that your needs, your feelings, and your ideas are invalidated by those powers you most respect and feel most obligated to obey. Imagine too, hiding, ignoring, or simply trying to talk yourself out of how you feel and what you want. Or simply pretending that it doesn’t matter, when, oh, it does. It matters more than anything else. Then imagine suddenly walking into a room filled with hundreds and hundreds of kindred spirits.

Such was my experience at the opening session of “To Be a Jewish Woman, The First International Conference in Israel” held in the Ramada Renaissance Hotel on July 14 and 15 in Jerusalem.

As I looked over the approximately 650 wonderful women who filled the vast ballroom, I saw heads of lovely silver hair, heads covered with colorful head scarfs, with wigs, with hats, and with no head covering at all. But there was one thing all of them did have in common: a commitment to Jewish religious law (Halacha) and a commitment to finding a way to live within that law as full and equal members.

To paraphrase Freud: “What do religious women want?” Judging objectively from the numerous speakers, it boils down to the following: Equality of opportunity. The chance to fully develop spiritual lives through all avenues, including those that have always been optional to women under Jewish law, but outlawed by social norms. Women want to learn Torah, and to have their learning respected and acknowledged and consulted. They want to have the choice of donning tallith and teffilin, of dancing with a Sefer Torah on Simchat Torah, of reading the Torah portion at a women’s minyan, or giving the Shabbat sermon in front of the whole congregation. Women want the insulting patriarchial bias of prayers like “Thank you, O Lord, for not making me a woman” acknowledged and amended. They don’t want apologetics for the misogynistic statements in Jewish sources. They want the blow recognized as a blow.

Women want to contribute to Jewish communal life and to have their contribution accepted and respected. They want to be allowed to decide what it is they want to give. Instead of preparing the shabbat cake for kiddush, they want to be allowed to prepare Biblical or Talmudic commentary.

Then, of course, there are those terrible problems and injustices that desperately need Halachic answers: woman chained to men who extort thousands of dollars to grant them religious divorce decrees, without which they can never remarry.. Women want the rabbinical establishment to stop dragging its feet. To show some initiative. Some courage. They want the rabbis to hate injustice as much as G-d does, and to do something to correct it.

Although this was not the first conference on religious women I attended in Israel, it had the wonderful feeling of a movement that has gone from the edges of the establishment to its heart, with no intention of moving on until its needs are met.

It was also heartening to hear the rabbis and men of letters who spoke so passionately and with such understanding and compassion for the plight of the religious Jewish woman who finds herself a victim to an insensitive male establishment that has no real understanding of women’s needs, and those small things that hurt her so deeply — whether it be an insulting prayer, or being at a first-graders ceremony where the boys are given kippot, and the girls hair bows.

Men like Rabbi Shumel Sirat, former Chief Rabbi of France (who sent his inspiring remarks by fax), Professor Moshe Kaveh President of Bar Ilan University, Professor Yehudah Gellman of Ben Gurion University of the Negev — were all admirable in their lucid presentation of the problems facing women loyal to Jewish halacha.

The courageous, intelligent women speakers, including chairperson Ms. Chana Kehat and Ms. Rivka Lubitch, Ms. Brenda Bacon and Ms.Susan Weiss, were an inspiration.

I believe that in a hundred years, all the things for which religious women are fighting so hard today, will be commonplace. For this is the way the Orthodox world changes, from within, when pressures become too strong to hide or ignore. Goodness, commonsense and justice will prevail. Everyone will benefit, especially the men, who will share their lives with wives and daughters who are happier, more complete and accomplished human beings. The organizers of the conference, the newly founded Religious Women’s Forum, are at the forefront of a movement that cannot be turned back. May they and their wonderful work be blessed.

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