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.

Subscribe to Naomi's Blog

Enter your email address to subscribe to Naomi's blog.

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.


Little Lost Girl

I received a phone call a few weeks ago from a woman in the haredi world who is constantly involved in acts of kindness and charity, and thus constantly in hot water. This time, she had taken in a fourteen year-old girl who had run away from home. Let’s call her Devorah, our little lost girl, and the woman who took her in Zehava. Devorah lives in one of the outer suburbs of Jerusalem with her parents and four other siblings. Devorah and her 16 year-old sister decided to defy their parents by refusing to attend the local ultra Orthodox Bais Yaakov School for Girls because it doesn’t prepare girls to take their matriculation exams (bagrut) and thus a variety of well-paying jobs. Instead, the girls registered themselves in the Chabad high school in Jerusalem, also an Orthodox institution, but one that does prepare girls for matriculation.

Their parents were furious. In revenge, they decided to lock up all the food in the house in their bedroom, and to deny their daughters access.

Both girls were forced to wash floors after school to earn money for food and transportation to and from school. Often, they went hungry. Both looked forward to Shabbat, the only time the parents provided them with food. This went on for months, until the situation suddenly escalated. Devorah’s father, seeing that starvation wasn’t working, decided to present his case with physical force. The beating sent Devorah out of the house fleeing for shelter. She wound up at the home of one of her brother’s friends, under the sheltering wing of the boy’s mother, Zehava.

“All she wants is food to eat, and to be allowed to continue her studies. She wants to go to a foster home,” Zehava tells me. “I don’t know what to do. Can you help?”

Well, of course, my first question was what about her parents? How do they feel about their daughter having run away? Do they want her to go to a foster home? Zehava said she’d had one conversation with Devorah’s mother, which she initiated after a whole week of silence, even though Devorah’s mother knew where her daughter was. The mother seemed unperturbed and quite gracious. She had no problem with her daughter bunking out with strangers. Zehava has ten children of her own, and a tiny apartment in Meah Shearim, and so it wasn’t a permanent solution.

I called the Israeli Council for the Child, headed by Dr. Yitzchak Kadmon. The Council, which does really excellent work in promoting public policies to protect the rights of Israeli children as well as publicizing abuses, has counselors on hand to help those in need of advice concerning childern at risk. Counselors, who were most helpful and sympathetic, told me exactly what to do: The social services unit in Devorah’s neighborhood had a special social worker for young girls in distress. The counselor gave me her name and number and advised me to get Zehava to bring the girl there as soon as possible. If she was at risk, a foster home would be arranged for her immediately, and her parents would be warned — even arrested — for their behavior.

I passed the information on, congratulating myself that the problem was solved.

Too easy. Devorah, terrified at her parents reaction to involving the authorities, refused to cooperate. Later that week, Zehava received a less than sympathetic phone call from Devorah’s father. Send Devorah home, he warned, or I’ll kill you.

So what happened? Devorah reluctantly packed up and went back home. It’s not so bad, she called to tell Zehava. She has a job as a housecleaner, and most of the time she has something to eat, even if it’s only bread. The beatings have stopped. But she isn’t able to go to school anymore. She doesn’t have the fare. She still isn’t willing to go to the local Beit Yaakov, which her parents claim is the reason for the way they’ve treated her. Her sister is still wandering around, sleeping each night with a different classmate, trying to hang in until she can graduate.

I think of Devorah sometimes, little lost girl, wondering if I’m right to keep resisting the urge to gather her into my home and give her a warm bed and lots of lots of nutritious food, the kind fourteen-year old girls need to grow into lovely young women. I can see her doing her math and English lessons by a bright desklamp, a cup of hot chocolate and a plate of cookies by her side, looking up every once in a while to ask some help with her homework, as she prepares to take her matriculation exams. Perhaps we would talk about college or Seminary, about careers, about new clothes, and cooking recipes. The kind of things I talked to my own daughters about when they were fourteen. And maybe, once a week, to help out, she might wash a floor or two, the way my own daughters did, right before shabbat.

I think of her often, little lost girl, and wonder: What to do? And how many more like her are out there?

Comments are closed.