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.

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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 - is a chilling tale of the paths that so easily lead us astray, and the darkness within us all. “שטן
Click the book’s cover to learn more.

Watch Valérie Abécasis' interview with Naomi on French Channel 24's Culture program. The interview (in French) begins at the 4:00 minute mark.

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.

Nic Nie MówMay 2017 – The Polish translation of Devil in Jerusalem is published as Nic Nie Mów.

April 2017 – Naomi speaks about her books at the Ivan M. Stettenham Library at the Streicker Centre in New York City.

March 2017 – Naomi tours the Paris region to speak about her new book Les Soeurs Weiss, the French translation of The Sisters Weiss.

January 2017 – Naomi is interviewed by Valérie Abécasis on French Channel 24‘s Culture program. The interview (in French) begins at the 4:00 minute mark.

“LesDecember 2016Les Soeurs Weiss, the French translation of The Sisters Weiss, is published.

October 2016The 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 Sarah 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.


Turning the Bloom into a Desert

Once upon a time, there was a desert land whose exiled inhabitants flocked back to her, swearing to make her bloom. While she had little rainfall, she did have a fairly abundant supply of sweet water in underground aquifers, called groundwater, and three reservoirs, one of them a harp-shaped lake from which she pumped water to all parts of the country. Many people were farmers, and loved to grow things. The country turned green.

But along the way, the farmers forgot they lived in a desert land, where every drop was precious. They chose crops that were water-wasteful, like cotton and oranges, making more and more money by basically exporting the country’s precious water supply. The governing body for preserving the drops was called the Water Commissioner. With great wisdom, politicians handed this body over to the Ministry of Agriculture, which like the cat guarding the cream, successfully pressured to give itself more and more water each year.

Municipal Authorities, who got the water for little and sold it to the public for more, were only too happy for people to use more water, earning generous revenues. And since the Municipalities themselves paid so little for water, each city planted lavish parks and gardens with water-wasteful plants, forgetting they lived in a desert land. Kibbutzim and moshavim, which also got water at farmer’s subsidized prices, were also lavish in their gardening and lush green places, forgetting they lived in a desert land.

Because they were an intelligent people, and because they lived near a great sea, their scientists developed ways of taking the salt out of seawater, making it drinkable. They developed ways of purifying wastewater, to make it resuseable for crop-growing, thus saving sweetwater. But the politicians weren’t interested. Why should the Treasury allocate money to build expensive desalinization plants, they argued, if the farmers are going to pay such low prices for water? Besides, the Water Commissioner “experts,” decided, there’s no need. Next year, there’s sure to be more rain. That was the “plan” of the Water Commissioner.

And so, each year, the politicians did nothing. Less and less water fell. More and more water was needed as the population doubled. And the Water Commissioner kept pumping out more water, emptying the wells of sweet water, the coastal and mountain aquifers, the reservoirs, gambling that the following year enough water would fall to fill the countries needs, and repay the overdraft, replenishing these priceless water resources, which were dangerously depleted. And although once or twice the country actually did have abundantly rainy seasons, for the most part, year after year, less and less rain began to fall.

Yet, the farmers continued to plant. And the public, who every government official was inexplicably concerned might ‘panic’ if told the truth, and so they didn’t, blithely washed their cars with hoses, and filled their swimming pools. They used powdered detergents and flushed chemicals into the sewer system, making it impossible to purify and reuse, and making the earth salty, the water beneath salty. And the pumps kept pumping. “Stop!!” the scientists and environmentalists shouted. “You don’t know what you’re doing! If you continue, soon sea water will flood the groundwater, the coastal aquifers, and our sweetwater reserves will be unusable! Water from the Kinneret will turn too salty to use and its pumps will be too high to pump water. No one listened. Very few desalinization plants were built.

And although Israel became the world’s leader in purifying waste water, it didn’t bother investing in pipelines to send this water to the farmers, letting most of it go to waste in the sea. And finally the day came when there was not enough water.

This summer, the Kinneret will reach -214.30 meters, the line below which all scientists have warned will mean the end of the lake. The coastal groundwater is 40 percent (FORTY PERCENT!!) polluted and unusable. A conservative estimate which allows for the public cutting water consumption 10%, and farmers 50%, shows the country will need 660 million meters cubed for 2001. The country is missing 395 million meters cubed of water in its three main reservoirs, even though in the past three years it has overpumped 300 million cubic meters. There is no place to get it from.

And so, what is the end of this tale? Shall we make it a horror story, or, at best, a cautionary tale? Let’s try both The horror story: They continued pumping, so the public shouldn’t panic. So the public parks, and kibbutzim and moshavim could keep its grass green. So the farmers could keep growing their oranges. Until, one day, the water was too low for the pumps to reach it. Until the groundwater turned into saltwater. Until the wells ran dry and filled with sea water.

Then, finally, the public was permitted to panic. And they did, realizing finally, that the desert land that bloomed had turned into an uninhabitable place, a wasteland, where there was no water to sustain human, animal or plant life.

And what of ending number two, the cautionary tale? They stopped pumping water. They let the parks go brown, the grass wither. They planned agricultural crops wisely. The public began treating water like wine. The Water Commissioner was taken out of the hands of the Ministry of Agriculture and given to the Ministry of Environment. The water supply was taken out of the hands of the Municipalities. Huge desalinization plants were built (Mr. Lieberman finally woke up). Pipelines for treated sewage carried it to farmers and public parks, turning the land green again.

And never again did anyone gamble on the rainfall. Because the politicians and the public finally understood how close their carelessness and lack of planning had brought them to environmental and economic disaster, finally understood that they lived in a desert land whose bloom should never be taken for granted.

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