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 Tiniest Country on the Map

I went to visit my grandchildren the other day. Although it’s a short trip from Jerusalem to Rehovot, I was nervous as I got on the bus, and my anxiety grew as I waited at the well-guarded central bus station. What were the odds, I kept thinking, of my getting blown up by some Palestinian’s latest message to the Jewish people concerning their rights to the land we live in?

Once I was there, on the floor of my daughter’s house, with the Lego and the kids, of course, I forgot all about my anxiety. “Look what I brought,” my son-in-law said when he walked in from work. It was a map of the world, laminated, a New Year’s freebie. He laid it down on the carpet, and the little ones gathered around. “Where are we?” they asked me.

I looked down and searched. And searched. And there we were. A tiny little squiggle by the vast sea, surrounded by the huge land masses of Egypt, Syria, and nearby Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq. We were so small, even Jordan and Lebanon looked more substantial. And they must be, because the map-maker found the room to print their names on their land mass. Israel had to make do with red letters in the nearby Mediterranean Sea.

Listening to news reports, and reading the foreign press, we forget sometimes that the “aggressor,” “land grabber,” with all those vast “colonies” in Judea and Samaria is such a tiny little thing. In fact, when you look at a map, the entire tale of the Middle East conflict as served up by the media not only sounds incomprehensible, it is.

I looked at my grandson, just turned four, puzzling over the little dot that is his birthplace, and thought: if he was a Palestinian, he’d have all those huge countries in the world to choose from: wealthy nations like the Saudis, cultured like the Egyptians, devout like the Iranians and the Iraqis, countries in which his language, his faith, and his culture were shared by hundreds of millions. He could live in any one of those places and have his holidays be the national holidays. He’d be part of that great Muslim power, those one billion strong all over the world.

His own people, are barely a fraction of that. Eighteen million, and shrinking every day. And there is only one nation in the entire planet whose religion is his religion and whose language is his language. My grandson, who was born here, would be amazed to learn that not everyone in the world is a Jew and speaks Hebrew, a strangely childish viewpoint many adult native-born Israelis share. They are at the forefront of rights for the Arabs of Israel; even going so far as to offer to share their little homeland, to make it into a bi-national state, giving half of what little we have to the Arabs, who have so much.

Of course, I know there were people in the Land of Israel when the U.N. partitioned Palestine and gave us, the Jews (with the agreement of most of the world) a tiny little place to call our own. Why should those native people suffer? Why should they lose their homes?

Indeed, why? And why should my in-laws have been chased from their home in Eastern Europe by the Nazis? And why should my grandchildren’s other grandparents have been forced to flee Morocco in 1948 along with hundreds of thousands of other peaceful Jews living in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Aden, Yemen, Iraq, and the rest of North Africa? And how can it be, when there was simply a population exchange, that there are no Jewish refugees living in miserable camps, only Palestinian Arabs?

“The depressing condition of the refugees is the result of a deliberate political choice, for, if this were a purely human problem, it would be capable of immediate solution. The oil-billions of the Arab countries should be more than sufficient to provide for the resettlement and rehabilitation of all Arab refugees…” Professor Tzvi Werblowsky wrote in 1975.

As I tucked my grandsons into bed they begged me, as they always do, to read them a story. And as I read, it occurred to me that my grandchildren didn’t know this was a very famous tale, known to millions of children all over the world, but that they were among the tiny number left in the world , as tiny as the much attacked, maligned, and suffering nation that is their birthplace, who could understand and enjoy Puss ‘n Boots in Hebrew.

On my way home to Jerusalem that night, I could hear the guns shooting from Bethlehem to Gilo and back again. I thought of the Jewish woman I’d met in a California shopping mall during a book tour the week the Oslo accords were signed. “They are never going to let you live in peace,” she’d said, shaking her head.

And I wondered if the Arabs were going to erase from history that Jewish family in Bethlehem, too, asserting their claim over the manger as they have done over the Temple Mount. And I wondered, with all the blessings the Arabs have — wealth, and numbers, and so many real holy places of their own, why it is they have no generosity? And no peace?

1 comment to The Tiniest Country on the Map

  • Osama B

    How can you say that Arabs are not generous? Look what we have given the world: long security lines at airports, billions of dollars worth of weapons for our fellow Arabs, and fifteen centuries of jihad. Name one other people that has left such a stain on human civilization!