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.


My Street, Your Street and J Street

The road to J Street might be paved with good intentions. But as we saw with Oslo, this kind of delusional thinking inevitably ends up covering our streets in Israel with blood.

When an idea is thoroughly debunked by the facts, wouldn’t you think that intelligent people would change their minds? The world, we now know, isn’t flat. The planet actually revolves around the sun, and not the opposite.

Or so we thought.

But when it comes to “peace” activists, nothing, but nothing, seems to alter their conceptions: not the bloodbath that drenched Israel ushered in by the Oslo “Peace” Accords, and not the hell on earth that happened to communities in range of rocket fire from the disengaged Gaza – the final straw that debunked the land for peace delusion.

J Street, a virulently anti-Israel and anti-Zionist propaganda machine, founded by Jeremy Ben-Ami with money from virulently anti-Israel George Soros, is a perfect example.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, a public relations expert, is a perfect example. Having come to Israel in the ’90s to help Peace Now realize its delusions, he saw instead an era of bloodshed and civilian deaths. Finding these ideas now totally unsellable to Israelis, he repackaged the shoddy goods, and with his marketing genius and undiminished enthusiasm for ideas that don’t work, repackaged them in bright new colors to sell in America to gullible, liberal young Jews who are only too eager be sold.

And what exactly is J Street selling?

  1. That if Israel moves back to the pre-1967 borders (called the Lines of Auschwitz) there will be peace. (Hello, were you awake in the last decade?)
  2. That Israel is totally to blame for the Arab hatred against it, which will completely dissipate by giving up land.
  3. And that if the Israeli government won’t do what Ben-Ami and his leftist cabal want, then maybe American Jews can elect enough anti-Israel congressman to pressure the US government into forcing the tiny Jewish state, besieged on all sides by homicidal maniacs, to indefensible borders that will usher in its demise.

Are Ben-Ami and his organization being deliberately deceptive? Is he a liar, or are he and his followers simply deluded? Was Shimon Peres a liar or deluded when he wrote his book The New Middle East? Was Yitzhak Rabin deceptive or deceived when he shook Yasser Arafat’s hand? Was Bill Clinton? And what about Barack Obama, when he meets with Iranian leaders to talk about compromise over the Iranian nuclear program?

Does it matter? Whether the people whose policies ushered Abdel-Basset Odeh – a member of Hamas’s Izzadin Kassam Brigades, from the West Bank city of Tulkarm – into the dining room of Netanya’s Park Hotel on Seder night, where he blew himself up amid elderly Holocaust survivors and their families, were deliberate liars or delusional idiots, what matters is that their ideas, their agenda, their sincere beliefs got people killed in the worst, most barbaric way possible.

Dead is dead.

J Street is the resurrection of the bloody corpse of the worst idea anyone ever had about how to achieve peace in Israel: the idea that goodwill on one side only is enough to achieve true compromise and sincere, long-lasting peace.

What is that saying about repeatedly doing exactly the same thing and expecting totally different results the next time? Isn’t that called insanity? To J Street’s customers, American Jews, whose sincere love of Israel and frustrated desire to see the bloodshed end is pushing them towards the used car salesmen of that organization, I say: please don’t be fooled. J Street is neither pro-Israel nor pro-peace. We in Israel want peace more than anyone, and have elected a government that shares our dreams – and doesn’t need outside pressure from lobbyists like Soros and his protégé Ben-Ami to achieve it.

Whatever J Street is telling Israel’s supporters, its list of contributors tell quite a different story. Let’s do it alphabetically: Richard Abdoo, leader of the Arab Council; Wagih Abu-Rish of the Arab American Institute; Magdi Badawy, a Stop the Occupation activist; Nidal Ayyat from Dharam, Saudi Arabia; Farhan Bhatti, PR director for the Islamic Center. And that’s only up to the beginning of the B’s!

And let’s not forget Genevieve Lynch, board member of the National Iranian American Council (outed as a lobbying group for the mullahs), who is on J Street’s finance committee and contributed $10,000 to it. Or Nancy Dutton, an attorney who once represented the Saudi Embassy in Washington. And then there is Mehmet Celebi, the former president of the Turkish American Cultural Association, who co-produced the viciously anti-American Valley of the Wolves: Iraq, a 2006 film that depicts a Jewish American doctor harvesting organs from prisoners.

In fact, 50 percent of J Street’s budget comes from outside the US, from people who are not always known for their pro-Israel stances, to put it mildly.

But the Jewish mouthpieces of J Street don’t seem to need much encouragement from its anti-Israel contributors to bash Israel. They seem to do it quite naturally at every opportunity.

In an article by Alan Dershowitz published by the Huffington Post in April 2010, the longtime Israel advocate says that the organization has “gone over to the dark side” by supporting the ugly and false hypothesis so favored by Israel haters, namely that Israeli “intransigence” is endangering American soldiers. “In the letter to The New York Times on April 21, 2010, Jeremy Ben- Ami, speaking on behalf of J Street, included the following paragraph: ‘An analysis of the Obama administration’s calculus on Middle East policy should reflect that many in the Jewish community recognize that resolving the conflict is not only necessary to secure Israel’s future, but also critical to regional stability and American strategic interests.’ ”

Daniel Levy, co-founder of J Street, said it clearly: “If a collective Jewish presence in the Middle East can only survive by the sword, it cannot be accepted.”

So let me get this straight: If we Jews dare to defend ourselves from our enemies, it makes the Jewish state untenable? After the Holocaust, which I actually thought that was one of the reasons for Zionism, a homeland where Jews could defend themselves from their enemies? Not a very pro-Zionist or pro-peace statement, wouldn’t you agree? Dr. Charles Jacobs sent me a link to a very interesting, balanced and factual film he has been involved in creating about J Street. When it’s ready for distribution, I hope everyone will screen it before succumbing to the rhetoric of this dangerous organization, which is making so many converts in synagogues and on college campuses across America.

The road to J Street might be paved with good intentions. But as we saw with Oslo, this kind of delusional thinking inevitably ends up covering our streets in Israel with blood.

Believe me, I know. I was at the Park Hotel on Seder night 2002.

This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post on 1 November 2013.

3 comments to My Street, Your Street and J Street

  • Steve Wenick

    Thank you so much for putting my thoughts into the very words I wish I had spoken. Sometimes my emotions take hold of my reasoning and I become incoherently strident in my support of Israel. Your words are a vehicle upon which my feelings and love of Israel can ride.

  • Naomi, so good to hear and see you still fighting. We need you to stay with the program. We need to address the young left Jews and assume that their assimilation and disappearance will soon required the stepping up to the plate of more orthodox yet uninvolved of the orthodoxy. I mean we can’t have goyim running the big Jewish charities. Can we?

  • Phyllis B. Levine

    With friends like Ben-Ami and other J Street supporters, we don’t need any enemies! When in history has a country that conquers territory have to give it back in order to have peace? Israel always seems to be the exception! Looks as if some things will never change!