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

The Big Six-Oh

For the first time since making aliyah 37 years ago, we found ourselves in the heart of the city for Independence Day, having exchanged our big house in the boring suburbs for a little apartment in the center of town.

“Let’s go out!” I begged my husband, who didn’t need to be begged. We walked through the darkening streets, looking for the crowds. To our surprise, all we saw were some couples walking in the direction of Liberty Bell Gardens.

We followed them, imagining a huge celebration just around the corner, full of hora-dancing hordes delirious with Sixtieth Anniversary mirth. We kept searching for children with plastic hammers and spaghetti string aerosol cans, hoping to be bumped or sprayed. But all we saw were people like us, more and more of them passing us in the opposite direction.

“Let’s get a taxi to King George Street,” my husband said after about an hour. “Maybe that’s where everyone is.”

But by then it was after ten p.m., and although I hated to admit it, I was actually rather tired. And thirsty.

“Let’s go in some place and get a drink,” I said.

Always accommodating, my husband pointed to Café Joe’s. But all I could see was a solitary man inside nursing a cup of coffee. It seemed a rather pathetic company to be in on such a night.

I sighed. “Why don’t we just head back home? There are plenty of coffee houses near us.”

We sat in Cafit, which was strewn with blue and white balloons.

People around us seemed festive enough, ordering whipped-cream topped coffees, and large chocolate cakes. And in a basket sleeping peacefully was a baby who was no doubt also celebrating her first Independence Day in the center of town.

And I thought, what will life be like for her, over the next sixty years?

I thought of the new little Hitler wannabes, heads of oppressive states that torture women and destroy human freedoms for all their citizens, building their atom bombs. I thought of the people who celebrate the murders and suicides of their children as if that were a great and holy accomplishment. I thought of the people- some of them Jews, even Israelis- who protest any attempt of Jews to protect themselves, whether it be a fence to prevent terrorists coming in, raids on terrorist strongholds, or a just war to stop missile attacks on shopping centers. I thought of the journalists and media pundits, who have lost all moral compass, and cannot tell the murderer from the victim.

The words of Dr. Eliezer Berkovits in his book Faith After the Holocaust  ran through my mind: “This has been a moral and spiritual collapse the like of which the world has never witnessed before for contemptibility and inhumanity. Judged in the history of the am olam, we are confronting a morally and spiritually bankrupt civilization and religion.”

Truly, it was a difficult time to be human, and a Jew.

I looked at that baby, sleeping so peacefully, surrounded by blue and white balloons. I thought of how hard it would have been for Jews a little over sixty years ago to imagine this celebration. Could they have imagined the utter defeat of the most powerful and bestial juggernaut in the history of humankind bent on degrading and then annihilating not only Jewish bodies, but the Jewish religion, culture, history and spirit? Could they have envisioned the ingathering of exiles, millions of Jewish refugees from Europe and Arab lands, deprived of everything – a million Gaza strips- pouring into a raw desert land whose lives would be nourished and who would flourish? Could they have dreamed of the transformation of a dusty, barren land into a fertile garden whose produce would fill not only our own markets, but many abroad? Could they have prophesized the creation of Jewish educational institutions, medical centers and research institutes that would produce discoveries and inventions that would better the lives of all mankind? Could they have seen in their fondest dreams the building of vibrant cities, lovely resorts, red-roofed suburbs, a young land filled with serious, dedicated youth, children who speak Hebrew and celebrate Jewish holidays, free and independent citizens of their own Jewish state housed in the land the Bible spoke of, the land G-d had promised Abraham?

We have seen these wonders. In our lifetimes, we have seen G-d’s face, His promise beginning to come true. In our lifetimes.

It is hard to imagine the 120th Anniversary. But I choose to have faith, that it too will be filled with rejoicing over miracles, things we could never have imagined. And that baby, who will by then be a grandmother like me, will also look back in joyous wonder.

When we got home, we heard it. It filled the apartment: sounds of rejoicing, singing, drums, the shout of joy rising up throughout the city. We couldn’t find it, but it was there, all around us. It had found us.

For the first time since making Aliyah 37 years ago, we found ourselves in the heart of the city for Independence Day, having exchanged our big house in the boring suburbs for a little apartment in the center of town.

“Let’s go out!” I begged my husband, who didn’t need to be begged. We walked through the darkening streets, looking for the crowds. To our surprise, all we saw were some couples walking in the direction of Liberty Bell Gardens.

We followed them, imagining a huge celebration just around the corner, full of hora-dancing hordes delirious with Sixtieth Anniversary mirth. We kept searching for children with plastic hammers and spaghetti string aerosol cans, hoping to be bumped or sprayed. But all we saw were people like us, more and more of them passing us in the opposite direction.

“Let’s get a taxi to King George Street,” my husband said after about an hour. “Maybe that’s where everyone is.”

But by then it was after ten p.m., and although I hated to admit it, I was actually rather tired. And thirsty.

“Let’s go in some place and get a drink,” I said.

Always accommodating, my husband pointed to Café Joe’s. But all I could see was a solitary man inside nursing a cup of coffee. It seemed a rather pathetic company to be in on such a night.

I sighed. “Why don’t we just head back home? There are plenty of coffee houses near us.”

We sat in Cafit, which was strewn with blue and white balloons.

People around us seemed festive enough, ordering whipped-cream topped coffees, and large chocolate cakes. And in a basket sleeping peacefully was a baby who was no doubt also celebrating her first Independence Day in the center of town.

And I thought, what will life be like for her, over the next sixty years?

I thought of the new little Hitler wannabes, heads of oppressive states that torture women and destroy human freedoms for all their citizens, building their atom bombs. I thought of the people who celebrate the murders and suicides of their children as if that were a great and holy accomplishment. I thought of the people- some of them Jews, even Israelis- who protest any attempt of Jews to protect themselves, whether it be a fence to prevent terrorists coming in, raids on terrorist strongholds, or a just war to stop missile attacks on shopping centers. I thought of the journalists and media pundits, who have lost all moral compass, and cannot tell the murderer from the victim.

The words of Dr. Eliezer Berkovits in his book Faith After the Holocaust ran through my mind: “This has been a moral and spiritual collapse the like of which the world has never witnessed before for contemptibility and inhumanity. Judged in the history of the am olam, we are confronting a morally and spiritually bankrupt civilization and religion.”

Truly, it was a difficult time to be human, and a Jew.

I looked at that baby, sleeping so peacefully, surrounded by blue and white balloons. I thought of how hard it would have been for Jews a little over sixty years ago to imagine this celebration. Could they have imagined the utter defeat of the most powerful and bestial juggernaut in the history of humankind bent on degrading and then annihilating not only Jewish bodies, but the Jewish religion, culture, history and spirit? Could they have envisioned the ingathering of exiles, millions of Jewish refugees from Europe and Arab lands, deprived of everything – a million Gaza strips- pouring into a raw desert land whose lives would be nourished and who would flourish? Could they have dreamed of the transformation of a dusty, barren land into a fertile garden whose produce would fill not only our own markets, but many abroad? Could they have prophesized the creation of Jewish educational institutions, medical centers and research institutes that would produce discoveries and inventions that would better the lives of all mankind? Could they have seen in their fondest dreams the building of vibrant cities, lovely resorts, red-roofed suburbs, a young land filled with serious, dedicated youth, children who speak Hebrew and celebrate Jewish holidays, free and independent citizens of their own Jewish state housed in the land the Bible spoke of, the land G-d had promised Abraham?

We have seen these wonders. In our lifetimes, we have seen G-d’s face, His promise beginning to come true. In our lifetimes.

It is hard to imagine the 120th Anniversary. But I choose to have faith, that it too will be filled with rejoicing over miracles, things we could never have imagined. And that baby, who will by then be a grandmother like me, will also look back in joyous wonder.

When we got home, we heard it. It filled the apartment: sounds of rejoicing, singing, drums, the shout of joy rising up throughout the city. We couldn’t find it, but it was there, all around us. It had found us.

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