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

Women Against Women – Let’s Stop Fighting Each Other and Change the World

In 1911, Lady Musgrave, President of the East Grinstead branch of the Anti-Suffragette League said she was strongly against the vote being extended to women. “Put not this additional burden upon us,” she pleaded, as “women were not equal to men in endurance or nervous energy, and (she thought she might say on the whole) in intellect.”

In Africa and the Middle East, the people who insist on continuing the practice of female circumcision, who hold down screaming young girls as they are mutilated, are also women.

Being a woman gives no one an automatic exemption from being abusive to women.

And so it is that I look with great sadness at those religious women who seem to feel that their task in life requires them not only to support the unfair excesses of the patriarchal society into which we were born, but to throw tomatoes and epithets at their sisters who are trying to make that society a better place for their daughters, granddaughters, and great granddaughters.

As they lean back into their comfortable lives, armed with a cup of tea prepared for them by their indulgent husbands, they talk with distaste about those “strident, aggressive, loud” women demanding changes in the religious world. Why, we live in the best of all possible worlds, they protest. We love having twelve children, working full time, keeping house, fighting poverty. We are spiritually fulfilled, we are overjoyed.

Let me say that I am sure this is certainly true for some women.

However, what of those who are not overjoyed and fulfilled with this state of affairs? From my own experience as a resident in ultra Orthodox neighborhoods, I can say with some certainty that a such a woman better keep that information to herself. A woman collapsing under the burden of her life will be given many helping hands. But she will get no help or sympathy if she has the intelligence and ability and courage to publicly protest the state of affairs which brought about the social conditions which burden her.

For a woman who admits such “wrong” thinking, will be lectured about her duty and told to shape up. She will be threatened about reducing the marriageability of her offspring if she continues to bring such shame to her family. All this, by other women.

In a recent article, a religious woman points to the hundreds of women who join together at the Kotel for prayers on the New Moon, seeing this as some kind of metaphor for women’s contentment with their religious lives. I can only suggest the writer look a little more closely at her sisters there. Perhaps she will notice that some have tears streaming down their cheeks as they press little notes into the cracks of the ancient walls. For in a society which denies rape, incest, drug abuse, and wife-beating, where else can the victims of such crimes plead for justice?

Women in this world are creative and free, this writer insists. They are writers, poets, playwrights, musicians…

I agree with her. There are many talented women in the religious world. But what outlets do they have for their creativity? The haredi presses which are publishing women, using their talents, are run by men who dictate exactly what guidelines must be followed; how characters need to dress, what they need to think, feel, say and do is all proscribed. The one haredi woman novelist I know who is published by a mainstream press, a terrifically talented Rabbi’s wife from Meah Shearim, uses a pseudonym. Not even her husband knows what she does. For creating real literature is still a dirty little secret in that world, make no mistake.

Even in the most clearly defined area of abuse against religious women, that of the current interpretation of divorce and marriage laws, we get women siding with the stagnant rabbinic establishment which refuses to use those Halachic tools at its disposal to rid the Jewish world of the travesty of rabbinically-sanctioned blackmail and oppression against women. Instead of supporting rabbis who are trying to use Halachic tools like annulments that would take some of the complete power over women out of their abusive husbands’ hands, religious women parrot their men, opposing these efforts, and denigrating those rabbis with the courage to use them.

I would like to turn to my sisters and quote Margaret Mead who said: “A small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

We religious women are not going to be the passive recipients of miraculous changes in our world. We have to make these changes happen – with meetings, petitions, public speaking, and non- violent protest. The suffragette movement started with five women drinking tea. Together, they changed the world in a way which benefited all women.

We religious women can do the same. Let’s not fight each other. Let’s work together to bequeath our granddaughters and their granddaughters a safer, happier, and more just existence. The kind of life our Torah surely envisions for all people.

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