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.


The Great Agunah Debacle – Part I

Two thousand years ago, when exploitive merchants extorted women by raising the cost of the Temple offerings women were required to bring after giving birth, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, Nasi Israel and its highest Rabbinic authority said: “I will not sleep until the price is lowered.” He then told women they could bring one offering for every five births. The price dropped drastically.

Rabban Gamaliel had no problem changing even a divine commandment to correct an injustice. That is what rabbis are supposed to do. “Pursue justice, for I am just,” the Torah tells us. When a drunken, wife-beating adulterer can refuse to divorce his wife (turning her into an “agunah” or chained woman) , preventing her from remarrying indefinitely, this is something any human being recognizes as evil, and unjust. And yet, the majority of today’s rabbis absolutely refuse to change this barbaric situation, a situation in which every single Jewish woman who seeks a divorce is subject to endless extortion by her husband with the complete collusion of the Rabbinical Courts.

Rabbi Moshe Morgenstern, great-grandson of Rav Katzenelbogen of Mezritz, and a brilliant Torah scholar and posek in his own right, who received ordination from Torah Va’daat and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, has ruled that when all other methods have failed, we do not extort a woman, or cause her to live in celibacy or childlessness because her vindictive spouse has decided to withhold her divorce decree. We simply say: At the time of the marriage, she didn’t know what a sadist this man has proven himself to be. Therefore, her agreeing to marry him is a “ta’ut”, a mistake. Marriage is a contract. When one side falsifies the terms (by being a secret sadist, which every recalcitrant husband proves by his recalcitrance) then the marriage was invalid to begin with and we, the Rabbis, annul it. The woman doesn’t have to pay any exorbitant bribes. Doesn’t have to track him down and beg him. Nothing. He disappears. His power of evil destroyed by the good that is the Torah.

Rabbi Morgenstern’s court freed 300 agunot in this — and other — very humane, simple, and halachically acceptable ways (all those taking out their pens to complain that I can’t judge that, I suggest they read the halachic analysis in Rabbi Morgenstern’s book “Hatarat Agunot” or go to the internet site:; it is written in a way that any intelligent person can grasp).

Rabbi Morgenstern and his colleague, the great Rabbi Rackman, have done a great sanctification of G-d’s name by righting this wrong in Halachic rulings with their court.

For this wonderful and heroic deed, Rav Morgenstern and Rabbi Rackman have been vilified, slandered and attacked. The rulings of their court have been denounced by the Rabbinical herd, frothing and incensed that anyone should reduce, one iota, the complete male dictatorship over marriage and divorce in the Jewish religion, a dictatorship that turns every chuppah into a potential prelude to bondage. A dictatorship that forces us to behave immorally and holds our religion up to ridicule in the eyes of the world. (If you doubt that , then you didn’t see the episode of “Sopranos,” in which a rabbi hires a hit man to beat up a recalcitrant husband.) Is this the face of Judaism we want to present to the world?

What can we do, you say, dear readers? After all, we’re not rabbis. Well, I’ll tell you. The next time some yeshiva or other religious institution comes knocking at your door, ask them what their attitude is towards solving the problem of agunot, and how do they feel about Rabbi Morgenstern. If they don’t have an answer that’s satisfactory, or they simply don’t understand the question, put away your checkbook. Why would you want to help raise another generation of Torah scholars who are, in the words of one of Rabbi Morgenstern’s supporters, Rabbi Moshe Shlomo Antelman: “incompetent , gutless, uncreative Rabbis who sometimes act in the mistaken belief that they are doing G-d’s work, when in effect, they are strengthening the locks of the [agunah’s] prison door. As Jeremiah complained: “The Torah experts did not know me” (2:8).

“The worst lock of all, “ writes Rabbi Antelman, “is the frumkeit (piety) lock, designed by members of the chumra (stricture) of the month club, who are programmed to think it is okay to keep an agunah locked up because of their own excessive piety.” The heter key unlocks her, simply by doing what Rabban Gamaliel did: using Rabbinic power to change even a Divine command if will prevents suffering and cure injustice.

Happy Pesach. May we deserve to see every agunah freed the next time we sit down to celebrate the holiday of freedom. And may all of us have the great privilege of joining together with Rabbi Morgenstern and Rabbi Rackman in bringing about such a sanctification of G-d’s name.

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