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 Virgins

To see these scenes repeated in Boston filled me with a terrible sadness.

It was all so sickeningly familiar: the happy crowds, the sudden ear-shattering explosions, the dazed and wounded lying bloodied on the ground. Like every Israeli who lived through the nightmare years following the Oslo Accords, which allowed terrorists free access to our cities and countryside, I can recall weeks and months when such scenes seemed like an almost daily occurrence.

To see these scenes repeated in Boston filled me with a terrible sadness.

After my birthplace, New York, Boston is my favorite city in America, one with which I became intimately familiar when my son was at Harvard a few years back.

A college town filled with ambitious young people, a town of libraries and bookstores and institutions of higher learning, it’s a cultured place, a city of many different languages and ethnic backgrounds. It’s a place for young people to follow their dreams.

Israel, too, is a young country where decent, hardworking, talented people work to fulfill their life’s calling; it is a place of opportunity, a place with a great mix of ethnic backgrounds. It is no coincidence that terrorists – fanatical losers who discard every opportunity to make a decent life for themselves in favor of the joy and “glory” of ruining other people’s lives – chose Boston.

But they could also have easily chosen Tel Aviv. Indeed, Russian intelligence recordings of conversations between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother actually discuss him going to “Palestine,” and he rejects the idea because “he doesn’t know the language.”

It makes me sad to see the people of Boston, and Americans in general, forced to struggle with the reality of terrorism. Like Israelis at the beginning, they, too, have their clueless pundits who resist facing the obvious, thus putting themselves and their fellow Americans in danger. Chief among these is new Secretary of State John Kerry, who, with amazing and boundless ignorance, compared the victims of the Boston bombers to the terrorists on the Mavi Marmara – a group of people who were on their way to join their jihadi brothers in Gaza and were killed by the IDF in self-defense.

He is not alone. There seems to be almost a willful ignorance on the part of some Americans, as there was among the leftists in Israel. Before the Tsarnaevs were identified, Esquire’s Charles P. Pierce cautioned readers against “jumping to conclusions” to blame the attack on “foreign terrorism.” One talkbacker wholeheartedly agreed: “I’ll bet good money it’s a right-wing nut job,” wrote Linda Ginsburg. “Today is April 15, Boston Harbor was where the original Tea Party took place and the ongoing gun safety legislation makes it the mostly likely suspect.”

The discovery of the bombers’ true identity soon afterward left such people in a terrible quandary, not unlike those “peace now-ers” who found themselves trying to explain away “peace partner” Yasser Arafat’s involvement with the slaughter of Israelis.

Some Americans, like Mark Juergensmeyer, professor of sociology and director of global and international studies at (where else?) the University of California, Santa Barbara, rose to the challenge, saying that “religion in the Boston bomber case also seems to be a secondary aspect of their motivations. Like the other cases in recent years, it is an expression of the rage of angry young men. The details of his connections to… jihadi ideology that accompanies some aspects of the rebellious movement are yet to be revealed.”

The barrage of indisputable evidence linking the Boston bombers to Islamic jihad, will, thankfully, make it nearly impossible for such people to persist in their delusions. Even CNN (Certainly Not News), usually a most proficient and consistent apologist for murderous Islamic excesses, gave in. Citing an unnamed US government source, the network admitted that “preliminary interviews with Tsarnaev indicate the two brothers fit the classification of self-radicalized jihadists.”

Why would  new immigrants from a Chechen background who had taken full advantage of America’s generosity in the form of scholarships, welfare, food stamps and even a marriage to a lovely all-American girl, want to kill Americans? Wasn’t it the Russians the Chechens hated? Journalist Nadja Vancauwenberghe, an expert on Russia, shed some light on this in an eye-opening piece in USA Today.

“By 2000, radical Muslims were using the Chechen war front as a jihadist playground,” she wrote, quoting their leader Doku Umarov as declaring, “Our enemy is not Russia only, but everyone who wages war against Islam and Muslims.”

Unfortunately for Americans – who had the temerity to fight back against 9/11, taking the war against jihad to the places that nurture this sickening culture of hate and violence – they must now deal with being on the jihadist hit list. As Dzhokhar Tsarnaev admitted, his brother “wanted to defend Islam from attack.”

As an American, I fully understand how my fellow Americans – used to freedom of movement and openness of heart – find this new reality hard to swallow. Police shoot-outs, dead and wounded policemen, people being confined to their homes while police hunted terrorists in their midst – all this must have felt like a horror movie for the untried citizens of Boston, to say nothing of the trauma of seeing blood on the familiar streets of their civilized city. But the sooner Americans realize that, like Israel, their fate as a free nation is to be on the forefront of this terrible modern war, the better it will be for them, and the more effectively they can protect themselves.

Thankfully, in Israel, the years in which naïve ideologues refused to understand that no terrorist acted alone seem to have passed. Now most people here understand the nature of the terrorist mind, which does not fit into the neat liberal scenario of the oppressed and underprivileged. So many terrorists have been gifted with talent and education and have come from rich homes and doting parents.

After 9/11, it should be clear to all that every terrorist identifying with Islam is nurtured by the same ideology, the same religion, the same set of beliefs reinforced by clerics in mosques, online, and in every town and village where Muslims live, and that no terrorist act is an isolated incident.

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes the united world of radical Islamists to inspire a terrorist. And that unity exists. Like an odorless and transparent poison gas, it has been unleashed all over the world, touching Muslims everywhere.

Nonie Darwish, the remarkable Egyptian-American human rights advocate and author of Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, had this to say in her article “The Nice Muslim Family Next Door”: “Some of the nicest people I know are Muslim, but that must never blind us from understanding the risk we are taking when we allow the building of hundreds of mosques financed by Saudi Arabia, as well as [allowing] millions of Muslims to migrate into America at a time of a fierce, sophisticated desire by Islamist groups to spread Islam throughout the world, and to radicalize impressionable youths by stoking anger against the Western nations, people and values.”

Inevitably, despite those who persist in their pre-9/11 naïveté, Americans are being forced to undergo the same brutal transformation we Israelis did to ensure our survival. Faced with the evil of bottomless Islamist barbarism, their virgin spirit of carefree freedom will never be the same again.

The Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen agrees: “It would be wrong and a cliché to say we lost our innocence on Monday afternoon as a plume of white smoke drifted high above Boylston Street, as blood pooled on the sidewalk across from the Boston Public Library, as severed limbs lay amid the bruised and the bloodied and the stunned, their ears ringing…. We lost our innocence on another perfect day, in September, 12 years ago…. But we lost something Monday too – we will never feel safe again in our own town.”

I’m so sorry, Kevin, and so sorry, my dear city of Boston. But take comfort in this: Like we Israelis, you as a free people will find the strength you need to survive and triumph. We salute you and yours in your just battle to preserve your way of life in your beautiful town.

9 comments to The Virgins

  • Karin Taylor

    Muslim fanatics have one aim – to rule the world and kill all “infidels”.
    And the First World is in denial. We will stay that way until
    we will be a minority and it will be to late.
    I am glad to have no grandchildren who might live to experience
    this.
    K. Taylor

  • LeeZee

    Now that google has changed “Palestinian Territories” to “Palestine” for quite onerous and odorous reasons, will they be removed from the “search” line-up?

  • Jerry G

    The irony of the Boston bombings is that Boston is an ultra liberal bastion and it’s the libs/progressives who are often the most ardent Islam supporters.

  • Irene

    Why is the world so blind? Can’t they see what’s going to happen if those jihadists aren’t stopped? They want to take over the world!!!

  • As long as Barak Obama
    sits as President of the
    USA, and who is considered as a Muslim
    despite his denial, the
    US Administration will
    never admit that Muslims
    are killers, jihadists,
    etc. As you say, every-thing must start at the top and this will not happen until
    an open-eyed Republican will sit again as President.

  • Naomi R.

    Excellent Naomi, but calling Islamic terrorism by its rightful name has to start at the top. As long as the Obama administration refuses to acknowledge these heinous acts for what they are and take the proper steps we will never be completely safe in the “Land of the free.”

  • artcohn

    UC Santa Barbara is a good school. I would have expected that a nutty progessor like Mark Juergensmeyer,would have come from UC Santa Cruz.

  • Emily Panzer DeRosa

    Do these radical Islamists recognize they did nothing to advance their movement? They cowardly ran away after they left their destruction. If they wanted to get across their jihadist ideals, they should have gotten on a soap box and tried to convince everyone how great the cause is. Oh, I get it now, they don’t know what the cause is.

  • Unfortunately there are those who would like us to consider this as just an aberition rather than recognize this as one more terror attack by Muslim jihadists.