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

A Modest Proposal

What began as a routine divorce between a Danish-born convert and her Israeli husband now threatens to tear apart the country, opening deep wounds and revealing the ugly face of the haredi judges who rule Israel’s Rabbinical Court system.

This all began during an uncontested divorce in Ashdod. Rabbi Avraham Attia, a member of the Ashdod Rabbinical Court, asked the woman a question or two about her religious observance (which was none of his business, by the way). Apparently, he didn’t like her answer, or maybe he didn’t like the way she was dressed. In any case, on February 22, 2007 – ignoring the reason she had come to court in the first place – he ruled that her conversion was invalid! Since she was not Jewish, she was not really married to her husband and therefore did not need a divorce.

By overturning this woman’s conversion, which had taken place in the special conversion court set up in 1995 to help convert many Russian soldiers and other immigrants who wanted to be Jewish, but found the Rabbinical Courts unwelcoming, Attia, and his haredi counterparts, were calling into question the validity of thousands of conversions that have taken place there, and insulting its head, Rabbi Haim Druckman, the spiritual leader of religious Zionism in Israel.

On April 22, 2007, the couple appealed the lower court decision to the Higher Rabbinical Court, arguing that the Ashdod court had exceeded its authority and violated religious law, disqualifying Druckman’s court without giving him a chance to defend himself.

The Higher Court ignored these issues. Instead, it chose to deal only with the question of whether the woman was observant.

Granting the divorce, the court also ruled that the Jewishness of the woman and her children was in doubt and needed to be re-examined, and that in the meantime the family should be added to the list of people who are forbidden to marry. Outrageously, they ruled that all Druckman’s conversion decisions since 1999 should be canceled, and that marriage registrars not register a convert who does not look observant from his or her external appearance.

This unbelievable decision was not only a slap in the face to religious Zionism, but openly violated the severe Torah prohibition of oppressing the convert and causing them pain, i.e., Shemot 23:9 – “Do not oppress a convert; you know the feelings of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Ruth (not her real name) is on my mailing list. She is a convert. This decision has broken her heart. She writes: “At what point will my children and I no longer have to worry that someone will unilaterally and arbitrarily remove the cloak of Torah and Jewish identity out of our self-definition? How many years – 30, 50, 100 – never? Does this mean that if I ever speak a drop of lashon hara, or some of my hair peeks out from under my tichel, or my elbows become uncovered, or I wear my sandals without socks – that I must reckon with someone’s claims that this is sufficient evidence to disclaim my Jewish soul? If the Rabbis today reject numerous sincere converts and needlessly oppress them, causing them untold pain, is this not a much more terrible sin than a convert who may not keep all her hair covered? We do not care to be involved in internal conflicts and back biting. We call upon all G-d fearing Jews to speak with one voice in our defense. We ask all Jews to not become embroiled and ensnared in this evil which will split the Jewish nation if not reined in now. We ask that you stand up for us and call our leaders to account.”

Susan Weiss, an attorney for the Center for Justice for Women, who represents the Danish convert, has taken this case to Israel’s Supreme Court. Her petition is aimed at Avraham Attia, Dayanim Avraham Sherman, Hagai Eiserer and Avraham Scheinfeld of the Higher Rabbinical Court. According to Weiss, the case highlights many of the faults of the rabbinical courts. “They have no concept of due process or fairness, and they display no sensitivity to those who come before them,” she told Dan Izenburg of the Jerusalem Post.

I have a modest proposal. Since all the dayanim involved here have openly violated an oft-stated Torah prohibition against “oppressing the convert,” and have spoken slanderously against a fellow rabbi (another strict prohibition), they can hardly be called G-d fearing or religious. In light of their behavior, I think we should retroactively invalidate their rabbinical ordination, and nullify all the decisions in which they’ve been involved. They should certainly be thrown out of their posts as judges.

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