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 Devil Takes Over

I was watching this old movie the other day called “The Omen.”

Released in 1976, starring Gregory Peck as the American ambassador in Rome and Lee Remick as his unsuspecting wife, the two await the birth of their first child in a rather creepy Italian hospital. It is inexplicably filled with priests, one of whom tells Peck his baby has died and offers him a newborn orphan to replace it.

Well, as in all good horror flicks, the audience knows a little more than the characters, and we are not entirely surprised when the adopted child, with the help of a sinister black dog, starts racking up suicides and other weird and horrifying ends to all those around them.

We soon realize the orphan actually has a living father. You guessed it: The Devil himself, who is only too happy to make the child an orphan again. Exit Peck and Remick.

Sequels followed, showing what happened to the world as the little devil grew up and took over mankind. In “The Omen 3: Final Conflict,” the screenwriters are tasked with imagining what the world would look like if the Devil gained control.

As I read the newspapers every day, it seems to me we are seeing exactly that.

The slaughter of 132 Pakistani schoolchildren and their teachers. The latest Boko Haram atrocity in kidnapping a whole village of women and girls. The admission of an Islamic State fighter that he personally murdered 150 women and girls who refused to be raped and “married” off to a murderer. The harvesting of organs for the black market by Islamic State from prisoners and their own fighters. The bloody, senseless butchery in a Har Nof synagogue. The “revenge” murder of two New York policemen in cold blood following a chorus of political and social incitement from politicians and “race pimps,” as actor James Woods so aptly called Reverend Al Sharpton.

The continuing efforts of so-called “liberals” to see Israel wiped off the map also fits into this context as pure evil. These efforts were out in full force this month when no less a body than the European “Court of Justice” (quotation marks my own, for obvious reasons) decided on December 17 to take Hamas off its list of terror organizations, in response to a Hamas petition which made the unbelievable argument that this designation had only come about because of information provided by the US, not evidence the court had garnered firsthand.

Say what?! The Europeans need more proof? That would mean they are the only ones in the world who didn’t see with their own eyes what Hamas did to Israel this summer; didn’t watch videos showing Hamas terror tunnels, the use of Palestinians as human shields, the stockpiling of weapons in UNRWA schools, Gaza mosques and hospitals.

That would mean they are claiming they don’t know, even as I write this, that Hamas is repairing its terror tunnels with humanitarian supplies we naive Israelis are allowing through again.

While the Europeans might feel they need further proof, the rest of us clinging to sanity do not, especially concerning European wrongheadedness – which was in abundant supply in a recent sharp exchange between Danish Ambassador Jesper Vahr and columnist Caroline Glick at the recent Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference. Vahr proudly assured us there was indeed a double standard towards Israel. After all, you’re “one of us,” wink, wink; Israel wouldn’t want to be viewed as Europe views our enemies. This cloying chumminess, with all its implied racism, actually took my breath away.

Glick spoke for all of us, not to mention sanity, when she argued: “This is not a double standard; this is a singular standard for Israel. It’s not about international law. It is about an obsessive, compulsive need to constantly pick at the Jewish state. And no, I don’t want to be proud that you are looking at us in a different standard from our neighbors, because you are not looking at our neighbors as human beings.”

If this is really how Europe feels about Muslims, then what does this mean for a Europe filled with millions of Muslims who are supposed to be equal citizens? The protests in Germany in which 17,000 people marched against the Islamization of their country sent chills up my spine.

While I certainly understand where they are coming from, who can ignore the reawakening of the xenophobic monster asleep in the hearts of the German people and not shudder? Especially happening as it is at such a time.

A screenwriter couldn’t have plotted it better. It is happening just at the moment when the free world can no longer look towards America for strength in upholding the traditional values of brotherhood and democracy; just at the moment when Americans have become as confused as their European counterparts.

A member of my extensive email list writes: “Do current events re: North Korea vs Sony and the implications of a terrorist threat if their demands are not met, give any thoughts to the [American] administration and the rest of the free world that rogue nations should not be allowed to get near nuclear weapons? Do we need to imagine what Iran will be capable of without even firing a single shot?” As the leader of the free world continues his six-year golf game, interrupted at short intervals by the need to increase his foreign policy and domestic mistakes, American leadership is at an all-time low. Close to the end of Barack Hussein Obama’s second term in office as president of the United States, America is the laughingstock of third-world warlords, its formidable armed forces demoralized by incompetence and stupidity. A recent Military Times survey revealed that only 15 percent of active service members approve of White House leadership.

The Cold War, that dinosaur, has again been cloned into life, rearing its ugly head with the help of the thuggish Vladimir Putin as he moves his tanks into Ukraine, contemptuous of America finger-wagging. And why not? America has drawn so many red lines trampled over by so many puny powers that no one takes it seriously anymore.

It doesn’t help that America, once the greatest economic power on earth, now owes China $1.2 trillion. The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave is slowly but surely being turned into a fearful nation of unemployed food-stamp and welfare recipients, with only an AWOL president, a disenchanted military and a police force under steady demoralization to protect them.

If it is true, as I learned in Hebrew day school, that God is compassionate and patient with sinners, and that he doesn’t punish children for the sins of their fathers, waiting to see if the children will continue a legacy of evil, it seems to me no mere coincidence that the world is now in the same position as the generation of the Holocaust: witnesses to unimaginable cruelty, widescale murder, rape, human trafficking and slavery, as well as many other forms of mayhem, injustice and evil.

As such, the world now stands in its grandparents’ shoes.

Will they raise their hands and salute this evil, as we have seen in anti-Israel, pro-terror demonstrations all over Europe and the globe this past summer? Will they shrug in helplessness and indifference? Or will they step forward with a helping hand to intervene, to protest, to use their individual political and economic power to counter this terrible wave of barbarism? Against hope, we must remain hopeful.

In this darkest of months, in this dark year, we Jews lit Hanukka candles reminding ourselves that however hopeless the situation seems, it is still possible for the weak to triumph over the strong, the few over the many, the just over the lawless, the righteous over the evil.

The consequences of the wrong choices by our generation are truly beyond the wildest imagination of even the most skillful horror movie screenwriters.

 

This article was first published in the Jerusalem Post on 26 December 2014.

13 comments to The Devil Takes Over

  • Jackie R

    ” Bye, bye Miss American Pie” – Amen Davida!

  • Davida Rosenberg

    To Naomi:
    Thank you for your depth and insight. History has repeated itself; but only worse.
    Today’s conspiracy is not only against righteousness wisdom and sanity, it is emboldened to stand against God Himself.

    To Gloria: In America we had successfully achieved the virtues you are still asking for.
    Freedom of choice and social justice are fundamental to our country’s foundation.
    What I think you are really asking for is to cross over the line of what is considered normal and natural to the new left liberalism of freedom of choice and social justice by way of Same Sex Marriage, and the full vent of the gay/lesbian agenda which worked it’s way not only into public schools but also public bathrooms. As far as the destruction of the middle class, that was accomplished in 2008.
    We still struggle to hang on to ‘what we got’ .. what we had.. and what we want-ed. But now a whole new way of life is being implemented by what I call, ‘ the body snatchers.’ They look like people, talk like people, but.. who can really tell? It sure does look like an alien cou d’etat to me. Why even the Vatican has set its gaze on high with it’s Lucifer detection device (color red) and headquarters in an American desert. They even go so far as to say that when they see an alien, they will ask if it’s willing to be baptized! Add to this the Pope’s new interest in global warming and we can all sit around the camp fire singing, bye by America pie.

    It’s actually Over.
    All the rest you see, is commentary.

  • Jackie R

    It’s not that your facts are “different” than mine. What fact do you have to back up your statement that our “economy is just fine”? Where did you get the fact that the Iraq war caused the economic meltdown? It’s nice that you like Obamacare – but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a hugely expensive program that makes insurance more costly for most middle class Americans and has only eliminated a very small percentage of the uninsured. As Pat Moynihan famously said “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts”. All you’ve done is defend Obama and spout nonsense accusing Republicans of cutting benefits to line their pockets and brainwashing Americans. We do thankfully live in a free country. I have the right to challenge what Obama does and what you say about what he does. Why would that give you nightmares? What gives me nightmares are people who don’t take the time to investigate if their opinions are backed up by facts, and instead vote for the best slogan – “freedom of choice” and “social justice”. Hopefully when 2016 comes around more thinking voters will have seen through those slogans to how much damage this president’s policies have actually done.

  • Keren B

    Shalom, A person would have to ask, who is on the board of those in Europe that would take them off the list? Truly, I believe there is an infiltration there. Anyone with common sense would see that this is some sort of favoritism statement.
    What about the children who were beheaded for their faith? Denying Islam and standing with Y’shua? This is a fact. They were children under the ages of 11 or so years old.
    Yes, the evil in the world is getting worse by the day…and the earth is grieving for it is defiled, all of it.

  • Jackie R

    As I said, Obama’s supporters are blind to facts. They only know the hogwash they have been fed. Obama “saved us” from a depression triggered by “Republicans feigning Iraq had nuclear weapons”? Really, I thought it was triggered by a housing/credit collapse. And just how did Obama save us? With a Stimulus passed in Feb 2008 under George Bush! The economy is “just fine”? That’s why we have 1.4 million fewer full time jobs now than we did in 2008. And Israel (the only friend the US has ever had in the Middle East, the only Democratic country in the Middle East, the only country in the Middle East that protects the rights of all religions), should be “thankful” that Obama hasn’t “punished them for all the bad mouthing”? Really, how childish can you get.

    • gloria s.

      Wh ocan argue with “facts”?
      Where do you get your “facts” anyway?
      Somehow they are different from mine.
      The only fact I know for sure is that I’m, glad to be able to live in a democracy that allows us to praise or denounce the government without having our heads lopped off.
      Even if you do give me nightmares.

  • Jackie R

    Iran, N. Korea, China and Russia have all increased their power under Obama. ISIS is on its way to subjugating millions more people. Anti-Semitism throughout Europe is increasing and once again we are hearing calls to “gas the Jews”. None of this seems important to Obama’s blind supporters; and if it is, it certainly can’t be Obama’s fault! Obama has convinced them that he is their savior and Republicans are the devil incarnate. Imagine what could happen if a Republican president takes office! They might lose their access to $100 worth of free birth control! Food stamp usage, which has doubled and in some states tripled under Obama, might be trimmed back! Perhaps if Obama had really improved our economy fear of a Republican president would be reasonable. But he hasn’t. This is the slowest economic recovery in 70 years. Obama’s regulation overload is strangling our economy. Obamacare is an expensive disaster – it has increased the cost and/or decreased the coverage for 85% of Americans in order to reduce the percentage of uninsured by 1.3% (from 14.4% to 13.1%). The labor participation rate is the lowest it’s been in over 40 years. The average number of weeks that the unemployed have been without work is 11.7 weeks higher than when Obama took office. Republicans could hardly impoverish the middle class more than Obama has. I can’t imagine any president doing more damage to the US, Israel and the world in general than Obama has.

    • gloria s.

      Who is Israel’s only friend?
      Who votes most of the time with Israel in the U.N.?
      Who has Israel at the top of their budget for foreign aide?
      Who saved the country from another depression that was triggered by the Republicans’ feigning Iraq had nuclear weapons?
      Obama is responsible for all the evils in the world? . . . come on. How’s he capable of so much power when you say he can’t lead?
      The best job the Republicans do is brainwash those who want to believe Obama is the worst thing that happened since white bread.
      Count your blessings that he hasn’t punished Israel for all the bad mouthing he has gotten from those who benefit from his good deeds and have suffered no more at his hand than any president before him.
      P.S. Most liberals do not get food stamps, and we love Obama care for all the right reasons, but always think it can be improved going forward.Oh, and by the way, the economy is just fine, too. Trust me, Republicans would have lowered taxes and cut out all benefits to citizens, including social security and Medicare, while continuing to line their pockets.
      Are you rich enough to applaud them for that, and what about social justice?

  • gloria s.

    As an American, I hardly recognized my country as you describe it. Not faultless, but still better than most. Without America, Israel is in deep do-do, no matter how you wish to criticize our leadership. In these perilous times, who would you choose to lead the country — Romney – Bush. or some of the other Republicans who would support Israel but ignore the freedom of choice, and social justice issues, let alone impoverishing the middle class?
    Please, stick with discussing the country you have chosen, which I love, but whose leadership among other problems can also be criticized.

  • Rev Sharpton, the author of the Towana Brawley deception, has been elevated to become Pre Obama’s friend, replacing Rev Wright, the latter abandoned after national outcry. This says it all. Regards, Esther Whitmore.

  • Herb

    What I find especially scary is that a majority of AMericans regard Obama as the greatest US President since Lincoln. I am afraid that as a nation we are suffering from dementia

  • Naomi R.

    A superb analysis of the evil in our midst. Fearsome in its intensity it can only be conquered if we are willing to see it for what it is and fight as we have in the past. Thank you Naomi.

  • geri schwartz

    You got this right on the nose of what is occurring in our world today. it’s the devil and the Europeans and liberal Americans are condoning the devil’s work, this is frightening and could be worse than the Holocaust.
    thank you Naomi for posting this, more people need to see this and be aware especially those living in a narrow world of what is really happening.