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 “Hundred Rabbis” Scam

Got a long, impressive beard and the keys to a once respectable Rabbinical institution whose founding father has passed away? Have no conscience, and no marketable skills? Boy, have I got a business for you. It’s called the Heter Meah Rabbanim (one hundred rabbi dispensation).

Forget about the fact that this legitimate Halachic tool was meant as a last resort to free husbands from an insane wife who couldn’t accept a get (divorce). It’s got even better uses nowadays. And it’s so easy to use.

Say a husband wants to unload a troublesome wife because he’s found someone less troublesome, but he doesn’t want the sticky problem of a fair property settlement. So, you offer him your services as a Rabbinic Beit Din (court) who will get him this heter (dispensation) to take a second wife without divorcing the first one.

This is how you do it: First, tell the wife you are now representing the husband, and send her a summons to your Beit Din, warning her she has eight days to show up, or you’ll rule without her, and charge her with being a “moredet” (rebellious wife). Then mail it late so she won’t get it in time to appear and ignore the fact she’s started arbitration proceedings with another Beit Din. When she doesn’t show up, you write up a “psak” (ruling) saying she’s an “apostate,” and “not fit to live with and have sexual relations with.” Write that she’s “ignored three summonses and a writ of recalcitrance.”

Say anything you want, since you never bothered to talk to the woman, and even the husband, when later questioned under oath denies she’s guilty of any of these charges. Small problem. She probably won’t sue — she’s just a woman after all, and after you publish your ruling all over her close-knit Chassidic community, she’ll have other problems, believe me.

Then you write up a fax with all this information and send it to your Rabbinic colleagues in the Holy Land, asking them to sign on a “Hundred Rabbi Dispensation,” to free the poor husband from the harridan. You use your letterhead. You have rabbinical relatives in Israel. Who will ask any questions? They certainly won’t bother to call the wife, she’s just a woman after all, and they are holy Rabbis who don’t talk to women, ptu, ptu, ptu…

Then signatures in hand (or perhaps not — you can always say you saw the signatures, but then threw them away) demand $50,000 to $100,000 from the husband for your services. He’ll pay it gratefully, having already found a new woman, whom he’ll marry in Florida (which doesn’t recognize a religious wedding ceremony as binding, so avoiding charges of bigamy). He’ll have a child and live happily ever after, leaving wife number one an agunah for the rest of her days.

Sounds good? Now, I must warn you, that this business too has its hazards. Let’s say, for example, the first wife just won’t roll over. Worse, she hires a nice Park Avenue lawyer named Sullivan who sues you for being the corrupt, bribe-taking crooks you are, forcing you to face a jury in a civil court which play by different rules than you are used to back home in Boro Park and Williamsburg.

Such is the alleged situation now facing Rabbis Aryeh Ralbag, Zvi Meir Ginsburg, Haim Kraus, Elimelech Zalman Lebovitz, and Solomon B. Herbst, AKA the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada or Agudas Horabonim. The plaintiff, Helen Chayie Sieger, who has been battling this out in court for years, now faces still another decision in August in the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

Having read the legal papers in this case, a few things were particularly shocking to me (and after all these years, folks, I don’t shock easily). The husband withdrew hundreds of thousands of dollars from his bank account and then “forgot” what he did with the money. At exactly the same time,  Rabbis Ralbag and Ginsburg allegedly mysteriously received payments from a third party for fifty thousand dollars each, which they promptly invested in lucrative bank shares.

Nor was this an isolated case. In the sworn testimony of a Mr. Fred Frankel, Rabbi Ralbag said he charged one hundred thousand dollars for a heter, at least half in cash. Rabbinical judges, as I understand it, aren’t allowed to make any profit at all for their work, according to Halacha. Nevertheless, the UOR defendants argue that “fees surely vary from case to case depending on each case’s difficulty” and “a large fee may have been requested in the Frankel case because Rabbi Ralbag did not want to take the case and assumed that the prospective party would be deterred if the fee was high enough.”


This is what Chayie Sieger has to say: “Throughout their motion papers, the UOR defendants huff and puff about how outrageous it is that an Orthodox woman would turn to the secular courts for relief. And, in theory, they are right. I would have much preferred to have been able to resolve this case in a fair hearing before impartial and respected Rabbinical judges. But because there is no appellate protection against corrupt and abusive Beit Din practices, especially for women, I had no choice but to appeal to the fair and just procedure of the New York legal system… I have been waiting for two and a half years… During this time, I have endured constant threats, humiliation, attacks on my reputation, and personal and business pressures that I never dreamed possible and cannot even begin to describe to the court.

“At the flick of a wrist, these defendants destroyed my family and my life in the only community I have ever known, without any thought whatsoever for my dignity as a human being or of the procedures and principles of Jewish law…. Hopefully, the result in this case will lead to the adoption of mandatory and regulated Beth Din guidelines and procedures so that in the future we can once again turn to our Beit Din system with pride.”

Amen, Chayie Sieger. I hope you win for all our sakes. Especially for the sake of Heaven.

3 comments to The “Hundred Rabbis” Scam

  • Dan Rosen

    I know this is an old article and I don’t know much about the particulars of halacha here, but I am wondering if anyone has tried to institute an equivalent heter for a woman whose husband refuses to giver her a get. If the heter here is simply the function of a takana 1000 years ago (a rabbinic innovation to resolve a societal ill) couldn’t someone create a takana now which empowere the beit din to write something on behalf of a husband who, by virtue of his recalcitrance, is clearly mentally unfit. I don’t know the history of this well and wonder if this has been discussed.
    Thanks in advance,

  • iMoshiach0.5

    BS”D. YOM KIPPUR . Dear Naomi,As a rabbis’ Slave 3 6 Years
    I Have Worst Cases REAL Stories=Addendum to 100 rabbis Scam
    to Prove how Right Are YOU, Please Contact me + Possible
    Meeting in USA when You are here!!
    Kosher Adam -Treifa Torn Appart by Same Ponzi Schemers pious ‘rabbis’=Massacred Mutilated my 10 members Family,8 childs+
    Mother ,37, SUICIDE IN PAIN.I am on 5 Death Rows:Fatwah+Omerta+Multiple Cancer+Diabetis.Jewish Code:One
    Man One Tray,only 1 execution per Capita.Slavery =6 years!!
    Bleeding Internally : Rambam Maachalot Assurot Ch.8,sec.9:
    Butcher whose hands Exited a Treifa Animal -disqualified…