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

Meditations on Lebanon

The day Israeli troops began to pull out of their encampments on the Lebanese side of the border, a banner headline in Israel’s most widely read newspaper, Yediot Acharonot, screamed: “The Degradation!” Inside, the paper showed panic-stricken residents of Kiryat Shmona piling belongings and children into cars and getting the heck out of there. Residents of other border settlements with microphones stuck in their faces talked about betrayal and fear and abandonment.

But there were other photos too: the mostly joyous faces of Israeli troops crossing the border, leaving the Lebanese hell far behind them. The tears and laughter of a bereaved mother, one of the founders of the Four Mothers group lobbying for withdrawal, as she hugged the returning troops. Her face told the story: it was too late for her son, but she felt glad to see these others out of harm’s way.

Putting down the paper, I don’t know what I felt, really. Nothing solid and clear-cut. A cocktail of fear mixed with hope and a carefully measured dollop of cautious satisfaction. I think these feelings were shared by many of my countrymen. But an equal number, perhaps, felt differently, seeing in the pullback a disastrous mistake, “the degradation” of the Yediot headline.

I talked it over with my son-in-law, who has regularly spent several weeks a year in Lebanon doing reserve duty. What do you think, Shimon? I asked him.

Well, he said, I’ll tell you a story. I had a friend, one of the best soldiers in the whole platoon, who one morning went with six other soldiers to deliver some milk and bread to another unit. They got into their command vehicles and took off. On the way, a landmine was detonated, killing all seven. That was Lebanon, he assured me. Ninety-five percent of the time, we soldiers spent simply trying to keep ourselves alive, with hardly any time left over to actively combat terrorists. Now that we’ve pulled back and are in safe territory, we can turn our attention to actually fortifying the border and guarding it against attacks.

This makes perfect sense, I thought. And the fact is that 4,000 Katyusha rockets fell in Kiryat Shmona before the pullout, so we can’t exactly argue that security arrangements before were wonderfully successful. Still, there is this nagging doubt at the back of my head that refuses to go away. And it is this: If all these things were true, then why in Heaven’s name did we stay this long? Why did we lose so many boys? Was it really all for nothing?

And if there was a good, strategic and military rationale for Israeli soldiers enforcing a security zone on the Lebanese side of the border, why have we left now?

I think I know the answer to the last question: Four Mothers, and thousands more worried parents of draftees who mounted a legitimate and extremely forceful campaign to get their sons out of harm’s way. And if we run our national defense according to the natural desires of parents to keep their sons safe, how are we going to continue defending ourselves as a sovereign state?

In general, parents from the south don’t want to risk the lives of their sons in defending the northern borders; and parents of yeshiva students want their sons to continue learning, and have other mother’s sons take the burden; and more and more boys simply get a Code 21 draft exemption because they “aren’t suited” for army life, and find that their evasion of service holds less and less stigma.

And the people who are most militaristic and gung-ho are sometimes also those who don’t have to serve (and won’t even honor a moment of silence on Memorial Day for those who gave their lives so that we could have a state).

I have always said that Israel doesn’t really have an army. For an army is a fighting unit made up of the children of people you don’t know who live far away. America has an army. An all volunteer one at that. In Israel, all we have is my son, and your brother, and our husbands, and their fathers. It’s very different. I know what it’s like to be married to a soldier, and to be the mother of one.

But in order to have a country that is free, sovereign, and defensible, there is no way to eliminate an army, or the dangers of being a soldier. My heart rejoices that our troops have pulled out of Lebanon. My mind is troubled.

I can only pray that Israel’s long border with the Lebanese falls into the quietness of present day European borders, where no one mans the checkpoints between France and Spain, and life and people flow serenely, unimpeded, in both directions.

But in my heart I know: Lebanon is not France. And Israel is not Spain. Still, we pray and hope. And only time will tell.

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