Naomi Ragen is an American-born novelist, playwright and journalist who has lived in Jerusalem since 1971. Naomi writes regularly in the Jerusalem Post and to her mailing list about Israel and Jewish issues.

My tenth novel, The Devil in Jerusalem, will be published this coming October, and I will be speaking about it on my November US lecture tour. The story - inspired by true events - begins with two brothers admitted to Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital with horrific injuries while their mother, a young American, devoutly recites Psalms at the bedside and refuses to answer any questions. “שטןBrought in to investigate, Detective Bina Tzedek follows a winding path that takes her through Jerusalem’s Old City, kabbalists, mystical ancient texts, and terrifying cult rituals, until she finally uncovers the shocking truth.
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.

“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.

Women’s Minyan

In her powerful and often emotional award-winning play Women’s Minyan (based on a true story), novelist and playwright Naomi Ragen explores the strict rules that govern the lives of Orthodox Jewish women, and in particular, how religious leaders can twist biblical and other holy writings to suit their objectives. But more importantly, Ragen – who once described herself as “a very religious woman who relates to religion with great seriousness” – sheds light on the subject of domestic abuse, especially when it occurs in a close-knit, patriarchal community that prefers to keep its dirty laundry hidden.
In May 2011, a reading of Women’s Minyan was staged at New York’s Westside Theater. The reading was directed by four-time Tony nominee Tovah Feldshuh.

Read the story of the production here.

Staged Reading at the Westside Theater

Interview with Naomi and director Tova Feldshuh

Staged Reading at the Core Club in New York


Women's Minyan

A scene from Habimah’s production of “Women’s Minyan” (photo: Gerard Allon)

Chana Kashman is a respected rabbi’s wife in the patriarchal ultra-Orthodox community of Jerusalem, a community steeped in religious strictures and customs that strictly control all aspects of women’s lives. After years of  abuse, she finally breaks her silence, only to find herself excommunicated and forcibly separated from her twelve children. In a desperate attempt to break the codes that imprison her, she manages to convene a Minyan  – a quorum – of women closest to her, including her mother, mother- in-law, sister, daughters, and friends, asking them to decide her worthiness to be reunited with her children. But even as they sit in judgment on Chana,  it is ultimately they themselves, and their entire society, who are on trial.

Click the book cover image above to order this book from Amazon.

Women’s Minyan is the longest-running play ever to be presented at the Habimah Theatre in Tel Aviv (as Minyan Nashim – מנין נשים).

“They enforce marriage and divorce laws that keep us chained like prisoners to men we despise. A man doesn’t need a gun to kill a wife. He can squeeze the life out of her drop by drop.” — from Women’s Minyan

“… the play is a mirror of that society. If one doesn’t like the face, don’t blame the mirror.” — Naomi Ragen, when asked about the controversial topic exposed by her play

Minyan Nashim at Habimah

A scene from Habimah’s production of “Women’s Minyan” (photo: Gerard Allon)

“Naomi Ragen’s Women’s Minyan is a tough play to watch, particularly for any 21st century American women … emotionally volatile … as Women’s Minyan demonstrates, cruelty takes many forms. And sometimes it flows from the similarly oppressed.” — Christine Dolen, Miami Herald

“I admit I didn’t think I’d like it. A play about the aftermath of a divorce in an ultra-orthodox Jewish family in Israel didn’t sound very appealing. Turns out I was wrong. I loved it. I laughed. I cried. I was captivated from start to finish.” — SFGN

“[This] powerful drama explores the gulf that separates social convention from fundamentalist faith in a patriarchal society, cutting across religious, gender and cultural boundaries … The haunting message of Women’s Minyan is one that needs to be heard and heeded throughout the world.” — The Sanford Herald

Women’s Minyan is designed to alert the world to a kind of domestic abuse that is seldom discussed.” — Richard Aides, The Other Paper

“… a J’accuse of all injustices against women in the religious world … What the men decide is what’s going to happen.” — Jerusalem Post

“Love, friendship, integrity, anger, jealousy, hate, duplicity, mercy, and honor are all brought forth in Naomi Ragen’s gut-wrenching play.” — KDHX Theater Review — Neville Mur

A scene from the Miami Jewish Cultural Arts Theatre production of “Women’s Minyan”

“Without being preachy, pious or judgmental, and without pulling any punches, Naomi Ragen’s Women’s Minyan brings a sensitive topic to the stage of The New Jewish Theatre in a production and performances which are stunningly powerful, moving and meaningful. Women’s Minyan not only deserves a ‘Bravo’ for directing, acting and script, but for bringing into sharp focus an urgent problem which has been kept under wraps for too many years.” — St. Louis Jewish Light

“Ragen’s script is at its shocking best when it details the many layers of subterfuge embarked upon by the rabbis and her family to both demonize Chana and erase her from their midst. And while there’s little time to fully develop each of her many characters, most are given brief moments that allow the audience into their hearts and souls. (She’s especially adept at quickly delineating their individual strengths and weaknesses.)”

Donald V. Calamia – Encore Michigan

Read some reviews of the play:

The Spanish-language Production – “Tribunal de Mujeres”

Poster for "Tribunal de Mujeres"

Poster for “Tribunal de Mujeres”

“Formalmente la obra puede resultar escasa en acciones físicas. Pero, el suspenso lo suple y el final es catártico. La sabia dirección de Juan Freund, también adaptador de “Tribunal…”, obvió con ritmo vertiginoso la mencionada falencia, aún a riesgo de soslayar momentos significativos. Con gran sentido plástico sorteó las dificultades del reducido escenario del Auditorio Ben Ami y logró un espectáculo de altísimo nivel. Su puesta en escena es ejemplar.

Scene from Buenos Aires, Argentina production of "Tribunal de Mujeres"

Scene from Buenos Aires, Argentina production of “Tribunal de Mujeres”

No menor mérito le corresponde a las actrices Milagros Arbizu, Marisa Roncato, Myrtha Shalom, Isabel Caban. Ester Fleischman, Silvia Franc, Betty Dimov, Myriman Poteraica, Lidia Goldberg y Marta Gimeno. La interpretación es tan sólida y homogénea que sería realmente injusto mencionar a alguien en particular. Contribuyen igualmente a la calidad del espectáculo, la bella música de Sergio Vainikoff y el vestuario y escenografía de Alicia Vera.

Espectadores que aplauden de pie y localidades agotadas avalan este comentario. “Tribunal de Mujeres” se impone como un felicísimo acontecimiento teatral. En resumen: no se la pierdan” — Manuel Lotersztein (Semanario Israelita)

Reviews of the Spanish language production “Tribunal de Mujeres” in Buenos Aires, Argentina: