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.


The Girl with the Rucksack

The amazing thing about actually living in Israel, is that even the simplest daily activities are sometimes infused with so much meaning. Let me give you an example.

I was going to get a haircut. My hairdresser is in Ramat Gan, which means I have to take a bus from the Jerusalem Central Bus Station. So I go. And as I’m walking through the doors of the bus station, I see so many young soldiers in uniform, men and women. And they’re walking in with their heavy backpacks, probably after a day or a few hours of home leave. One girl was so petite, and her rucksack was so big, they were almost the same size. But there she was, strong, resilient, schlepping it without even a sign of effort. And the young men, so tall and slim and handsome. And every one of them has got either a rifle or a pistol in a gun belt. And I’m thinking: no I’m not worried about terrorists. Not at all. Not with all these big, handsome, intelligent, trained Jewish kids all around me.

And I thought about where each of them had come from. Their grandparents – no matter their background – had run away from places all over the world. If they were from Arab lands, they’d been persecuted and robbed of all their property before making their way to Israel. If they were from Europe, they were probably the only member of their entire family to survive. And here was the third generation: strong, fearless, armed. These kids, I thought, have made it possible to live in a country where if you wear a skullcap or a Jewish star, you don’t have to worry about being beaten up or murdered. They have made it possible to own things – houses, land, businesses – without worrying that the anti-Semites will come to power and take everything away. They have made it possible to bring up a new generation of Jewish children who know what it is to have their own country, their own army, their democratically elected government.

My hairdresser is a new immigrant from Paris who fled the worsening situation there, where Jews are blown up in supermarkets, and thrown out of their windows by their Muslim neighbors. She doesn’t understand why all French Jews don’t pick themselves up and come. She is very spiritual, and often tells me about the rabbis whose lectures she attends. She has opened up her own little shop on a pleasant little street across from a beautiful park. She is happy.

Each day, every day, if you live in Israel, the people you come into contact with are the living continuation of Jewish history, the end of a long, sometimes desperate, path taken which ended after many, many struggles in rest and peace. A whole country filled with people like that, so that when you think about it, it has to fill your heart to the brim and bring tears to your eyes and a prayer of thanksgiving to your lips that you have the great privilege of participating and witnessing this miracle of our time.

How wonderful to be a Jew at this time in history. I thank the tall young air force officer and the tiny girl schlepping her enormous sack. Each in their own way continues to make this miracle possible.

I love you all.

11 comments to The Girl with the Rucksack



  • Arie Katzir

    Dear Naomi,
    I’m what is called from the second generation of the survivors of the Shoa. I’m proud to have made my Aliya a long time ago and being a soldier, as an answer to all the Anti-Semites I met during my stay as a child and very young at the diaspora. I agree completely about what you write. As I have an Israeli family and all my children served in Tzhal. It is amazing to see how the third generation has developed and there is still the same enthusiasm, to serve our country.


    Thank you for sharing. All so true! It brings to my eyes as well.

  • marvin p. cohen

    my third granchild finished his 3 yrs in march and his sister will im yitzhar hashem enter in july 18. kol hakavod to these kids

  • David Talbot-Teitelbaum

    Shared on my FB page.

  • Marlene Eisenberg

    When I was recently in Israel I saw a soldier in
    Wheelchair !

  • your story is a very simple one of a typical day in israel-it could be afula,tzfat,bet shean or bet shemesh-what comes through is YOUR LOVE AND CARING AND ICHPATIUT FOR OUR WONDERFUL COUNTRY-WE ARE ALL SO LUCKY TO BE ALIVE HERE AND BEING PART OF THE MIRACLE-THANKS NAOMI FOR YOUR MEANINGFUL PIECE!!

  • Naomi R

    Having a grandson who is a Lone Soldier has made me more aware of the Israel of my heart and soul. Beautifully written Naomi. I feel your pride. Thank you.

  • Anne sandler

    When will the book
    The girl with the rucksack come to the United Stares ?
    Anne Sandler

  • susan cohen

    It sure is wonderful to see the young Israelis in uniform. We here in Canada are very proud of them and to think that they are protecting all Jewish people is amazing. So my hat is off to them all.