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

Those Subversive Women’s Voices

When G-d parted the Red Sea and let the Hebrews pass, the Torah tells us that Miriam, Moses’ sister, took up her tambourine and led all the women in dancing and song in praise of His holy name.

I suppose if Rabbi Porush and Rabbi Gafni had been there, they would have had her put in jail for seven years for the crime of “violating holy places” by daring to let women’s voices be heard -– not to mention the dancing bit, which would have brought out the Modesty Patrol with billy clubs.

I am referring, of course, to the new law that they and their colleagues are trying to pass in order to overturn the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the right of the Women of the Wall prayer group  to sing their prayers together at the Western Wall.

Let me be perfectly sincere.  When I was asked years ago what I thought of Women of the Wall, I said that if one really wanted to pray, one should do so any way one pleased in the privacy of one’s own home. I was also uncomfortable with those who showed no sensitivity to the problem of introducing new religious rites into an established congregation (the Kotel is a synagogue with its own customs, and has been for many years).

However, by supporting this bill,  Knessest Members from the so-called “religious” parties (we see very little of our Torah in anything these people ever support), have managed to change my mind.

They doubt the women’s sincerity, Rabbis Porush and Gafni complain.  It’s just a Reform provocation. These women aren’t really interested in prayer.

Now if I were to suggest that all of those men and boys in yeshivot and kollelim were only warming seats in order to dodge the draft and get their monthly government hand-out, I would be drowned in a flood of vitriol.

But I won’t say these things, for the simple reason that they are not true. There are a number of yeshiva men out there who deserve to be exempt from army service, who deserve to be supported by the community because they are really sincere and dedicated to their studies and bright enough to make a unique contribution to the Jewish people.

Jewish women who have created new rituals for themselves, like wearing women’s prayer shawls and donning teffilin, acts permitted by some of the greatest Jewish lawgivers, deserve the same benefit of the doubt as to their sincerity.  In general, one cannot help but wonder at the fat-cat arrogance and lack of respect shown by these men, party functionaries in saintly guise, in the name of our holy Torah. After all,  people with the extreme delicacy to cover the challah bread so as not to shame it when we bless the wine first, show a shocking disregard for the feelings not only of Women of the Wall, but of Jewish women in general.

Because I have a hot flash for you, fellows. The rules have changed. When you mock women for daring to have their own opinions, or trying to enrich their religious experience in ways that they find meaningful, look behind you: you’re not leading anyone in the Jewish world but men like yourselves.  Certainly no one from the modern Orthodox world. In fact, we can’t even tell if your own wives agree with you, voicelessness being a quality nurtured in your women from early childhood through old age.

I understand you better than you realize,  Rabbi Porush and Rabbi Gafni: it’s not the prayer shawls, or even the teffillin. It’s those women’s voices rising out of obscurity; those women’s voices speaking to Hashem without your permission.

For what might they tell the Holy One, Blessed be He?  How their marriage contracts are not honored?  How the Rabbinical courts oppress them? How the whole society rejects them if they dare speak out about their husband’s abuse or infidelity?

Women thinking and praying independently are the most dangerous thing in the world for the society you represent. Just imagine if those women get to stand there at the Kotel in the women’s section, providing your women with an example of independent thinking, giving them the courage and fortitude to take on all the injustices that are now considered social norms in your world.   Why, if that ever happens, your  whole society — a society built on inequality, on women’s acceptance of an unfair burden of backbreaking work — would come crashing down like a house of cards.

Yes. They should be put in jail.  As Tommy Lapid wryly suggests, not for seven years, but for life.  Because there is nothing more subversive than a woman capable of opening  her mind, her heart, and then her mouth.  If our generation of Jewish women ever do get together and allow themselves to cry out to Hashem and He  hears what they have to say, then you guys, and all those who fund you and lead your cheerleading section — poms poms flying —  will have a lot to answer for.  And you all know it.

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