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.


Reinventing the Holocaust

The Admor of Kalive, Manchem Mendel Taub, has decided that what the ultra-Orthodox community needs is its own alternative to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority, established in 1953 by Israel’s Knesset. According to Moshe Fichsler, who is in charge of the Kalive museum project, haredi youth knows little about the Holocaust.

Could this be, perhaps, because their elders have never visited Yad Vashem, and don’t bring their children? Could this be because even the national moment of silence in which Holocaust victims are remembered, is not honored in the haredi world?

Of course, the haredim have an answer for all that: Yad Vashem has pictures of women without their clothes on. And standing still and remembering is a “Gentile” invention.

Now, while I think it is legitimate to debate whether the dignity of the victims is violated by displaying such pictures, it is quite another to boycott the entire memorial site of the Jewish people because of it. As for standing silent and remembering, isn’t that exactly what the high priest Aaron did when he learned his two sons had died?

But I think we do an injustice to our ultra-Orthodox brethren to reduce their problem to such petty issues. In truth, the issues are much, much larger. For when I wander through the dark halls of Yad Vashem, taking in its devastating portrayal of Jewry’s unimaginable tragedy, and then I walk out into the Jerusalem sunlight, something happens to me. I am reminded that all of us born of Jewish parents or grandparents, whatever our beliefs or lifestyles, were treated equally by the Nazis and their collaborators. I am reminded that we Jews are all brothers and sisters, and that the State of Israel was founded to give Jews a home, a place that when we have to go there, it has to take us in. A place where we Jews could arm and defend ourselves from future tragedies. A place we could, as Jews, watch out and care for each other.

But this, apparently, is not the right message for ultra-Orthodox leadership. Why not becomes apparent in reading Ephraim Zuroff’s brave, well-written and most fair analysis in his book: “The Response of Orthodox Jewry in the United States to the Holocaust”.

Dr. Zuroff, an Orthodox Jew, is deeply sympathetic to the efforts of religious Jews to rescue European rabbis and yeshiva students, and he documents with care their successes and dedication. However, as a scholar, he can’t ignore the sad truth that in pursuing their goals, Orthodox leadership often ended up helping some Jews to receive double aid while others starved, all in the name of “enabling [yeshivah students] to continue their studies uninterrupted as if there were no war.”

Even after August 1942, when it became clear that wide-scale extermination of European Jewry was taking place, the Vaad ha-Hatzala Rescue Committee concentrated its support for rabbis who faced no immediate threat of annihilation in Shanghai and central Russia.

Nor can Zuroff ignore the fact that many prominent European rabbis, roshei yeshivot, didn’t bother to get their students vital documentation when it was still possible, unwisely squandering opportunities to save lives.

For his scholarship and fairness, Dr. Zuroff has (predictably?) been compared to Holocaust denier David Irving by Rabbi Berel Wein, and discredited by haredi historian Dr. David Kranzler. Their criticism leaves me wondering if either has actually bothered to read the book. (In my personal experience, my harshest critics have never bothered to read mine. That way, it’s so much easier to be critical.)

Yes, the Orthodox Vaad ha-Hatzala was willing to march and protest when secular Jews were too embarrassed (they also refused to march when secular Jews wanted to). They were willing to bend American regulations if it meant saving Jewish lives. And in the end, they were even willing to join with their fellow Jews for wider goals.

But the bickering, mostly over fundraising, between the Vaad and the JDC continued almost constantly throughout the war. True, the JDC sometimes hampered the Vaad’s unusual but sometimes successful initiatives. But without JDC funding, the efforts of the Vaad would have been close to worthless.

The importance of Jewish unity and cooperation seems to be the lesson of this historical fact-gathering. Without conveying that lesson, any Holocaust memorial is worthless.

Thus, the desire of haredim to even remember and mourn separately, to deny their children the experience of sharing in the Jewish people’s collective memory, is unforgivable, as are the attempts to vilify any Orthodox Jew who breaks ranks, bravely exposing unpleasant truths that must be faced about ourselves, our communities and the spiritual leaders we so love to aggrandize into saintliness and infallibility. The truth is, that when the chips were down, trusting the infallibility of rabbinical leaders cost people their lives. The truth is that when push came to shove, rabbis and yeshiva students worried about themselves and their own, and only very late, and very partially, did they consider the needs of the rest of Jewry.

We see that legacy today in the refusal of the haredi community to do their fair share of military service, or their fair share shouldering the financial and social burdens of the Jewish people in the land of Israel. Yes, I suppose they need a museum of their own. A place unburdened by reality, history, and the growing voices of dissent within their own ranks. But in building it, the haredim will be adopting another invention of the “gentiles” — Disneyland.

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