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.


Bleak House – The Sordid Story of the Michal Tal Case

“I have finally received some measure of belated justice, and I would like to believe that more will come.”

Last week, after five long years of my being dragged through the courts, defamed, libeled and slandered, Israel’s Supreme Court issued a ruling in the Michal Tal case that stated: “There is not and never was any basis whatsoever for any claim of plagiarism or copyright infringement brought against Naomi Ragen in the Jerusalem District Court.”

Far from a mere technical victory, this ruling was an acknowledgement by Tal’s own children, one of whom is a lawyer, who had attended the court sessions and listened to testimony throughout, that this case was frivolous and baseless. For had they had the slightest hope of winning, they stood to gain NIS 2.5 million. Instead they withdrew at the first opportunity.

A short recap of what happened will explain why.

On February 14, 2007, Tal’s lawyer, Gilad Corinaldi (גלעד קורינאלדי), sent me a brutally worded threatening letter via the Internet demanding that I pay his client, “… in light of the copyright violation and the profits you have made from [Tal’s book] which have illegally enriched you, a more than appropriate sum of money… You have five days of grace from the receipt of this letter to take the above actions. If you do not comply with these demands, my client will take the following actions: …apply to the courts for injunctions against you and the three publishers who market and sell your books to remove the books from the bookstores…; sue you for millions of shekels (the sum has not yet been fixed); publicize your copyright violations on a special Internet site and also issue a press release to all the media in Israel and especially outside Israel in order to give your readers an opportunity to judge for themselves the act of plagiarism you committed. Your fate is in your hands. Your good name and the future of your works hang in the balance [emphasis in the original].”

“Am I being blackmailed?” I asked myself. “Who are these people? What do they want from me?” I had never heard of either of them, and I certainly had never read Tal’s book.

On Tuesday, February 20 at 10:40 p.m., Gilad Corinaldi called my cell phone and spoke to my husband, who told him to expect a reply to his letter the next day from my lawyers. On Wednesday, my lawyers faxed Corinaldi a reply which categorically stated that my book was entirely my own creation, that I had never heard of either Tal or her book and that I was not going to pay Tal anything because she didn’t deserve anything.

The very next day, a Thursday, Corinaldi and Tal appeared in the Jerusalem District Court and demanded an urgent ex-parte session (that is, a session in the presence of one side only; I knew nothing about this session and was thus unable to defend myself against their baseless accusations) on the grounds that it was impossible to contact me and that I was about to flee to the country. Tal claimed not to know my home phone number but didn’t tell the court that her lawyer had called my cell phone. She offered no proof for her allegations. Instead, she told the court that an unnamed “mutual friend” had, at her request, given me a copy of her book years before. The coup de grace was a 50-page table of “similarities” between her book and mine.

Inexplicably, the court did not ask Mr. Corinaldi to support his allegations with any kind of proof. Even though both books had been published a decade before, the judge accepted Mr. Corinaldi’s argument that the matter was urgent and justified an ex-parte session. The judge took Mr. Corinaldi’s word for everything and granted the injunctions, ordering that all copies of The Ghost of Hannah Mendes be removed from bookstores, no questions asked. In fact, the judge even ignored Mr. Corinaldi’s statement (strategically buried deep in a paragraph at the end of his motion) acknowledging his receipt of my lawyer’s letter a day earlier.

All of this happened without my being present to defend myself. So much for due process and fair hearings.

Completely unaware of what had happened, I was awakened at 6:30 on a Friday morning by a phone call from a reporter wanting my reaction. The story made front page news in all the weekend papers.

This was exactly what the letter had promised would happen if I didn’t pay up.

I later learned that I was neither the first nor the only victim of Mr. Corinaldi’s tactic of an urgent ex-parte session late Thursday afternoon followed by front page coverage in the weekend press. The same thing had happened in the David Hachi Tov (דוד הכי טוב) case, with the same judge.

Those who have read my last novel, The Tenth Song, will understand exactly what my family and I went though. I felt raped, assaulted and bloodied. It was two weeks before I had my day in court. The injunctions were lifted immediately with no objections from Tal; they had apparently served their purpose.

How many hours of precious time did I waste going through that 50-page book of ”similarities”? Tal claimed copyright over the concept of a family tree. She claimed I had put a woman on the cover of my book that looked like the woman on the cover of her book. She compared blue eyes to brown eyes, pigtails to ponytails. And then there were the “quotes” that had simply been invented, texts that were neither in her book nor in mine, doctored “quotes” with words added or left out, to “prove” that I had copied them.

In fact, there was not a single instance of any similarity, just as you might expect since I’d never laid eyes on her book. In her testimony two years later, Tal blamed the doctored and falsified texts on typographical errors made by her lawyers. As for the affidavits she had signed, Tal said that she hadn’t understood the Hebrew, despite holding a master’s degree in Hebrew literature from Tel Aviv University, and had blindly signed whatever papers her lawyers had put before her.

Tal also claimed that no less than two experts had reviewed the books and written reports supporting her claims, but she couldn’t produce the reports, claiming she had lost them when she moved house. Nor could she remember the names of these mysterious experts.

I presented evidence that I had submitted The Ghost of Hannah Mendes, which took me seven years just to research, to my publisher months before Tal self-published her novel with a vanity press in England. One of Tal’s own witnesses (a literary agent) testified that she had read my book in manuscript more than a year before Tal’s book was published. The mutual friend testified she’d never given me a copy of Tal’s book.

I thought at that point that someone would surely put a halt to these farcical proceedings. Wasn’t it obvious this was all a sick, delusional joke? But I was mistaken. We were just at the beginning. There then began a series of endless delaying tactics that made me feel I might have to wait forever for my name to be cleared. Even after the testimony was completed and the court ordered Tal to submit her summation, she and her lawyer never met the deadline, instead filing repeated frivolous motions to which my lawyers had to respond, at times by filing appeals to the Supreme Court.

At one point Tal dismissed her lawyer and asked for time to obtain a new lawyer through Legal Aid. My lawyers told me they suspected that these were all delaying tactics because Tal wanted at all costs to avoid the inevitable loss of her delusional case. Eventually, at the end of 2010 (almost four years after my ordeal began), the first lawyer, Corinaldi, returned, just before Tal died of the illness from which she had been suffering since before filing her case.

The same court that had eagerly issued the ex-parte motions decided to simply expunge the case as though it had never happened, completely indifferent to my pain, years of humiliation and enormous expenses. Worse, the court’s decision left the door open to the heirs to re-file the suit or to demand a “substantial” sum of money to make the case go away! After all I had been through, in the end I was forced to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court.

I have finally received some measure of belated justice, and I would like to believe that I will eventually get some justice in the other cases against me as well.

I have been through an ordeal. But my faith in human and divine goodness and in the beauty of the written word still remains, filling me with new hope and new life. Even if they leave me penniless and without honor, I am grateful for those gifts with which I was born to express myself. Whatever happens, I am comforted that my books will continue to nourish the spirits of those that read them. Without whitewashing the faults or problems that exist in the religious world, I am hopeful that my books will convince those who hate religious people that they are wrong and that the love of God for his people, Israel, is a pure love and the Jewish religion at its most authentic is a beautiful faith to live by.


This was originally published in the Jerusalem Post on 13 January 2012.


Two more points:

  1. My lawyers advised me that Mr. Corinaldi’s tactics might possibly be a violation of the Israel Bar Association’s Code of Ethics. But when I filed a complaint with the Israel Bar Association, this is what happened. So I didn’t bother filing a complaint about this and this.
  2. An objective analysis of the Shapiro case can be found here.


4 comments to Bleak House – The Sordid Story of the Michal Tal Case

  • […] Naomi Ragen Wins A Second Plagiarism Suit in the Supreme Court – Naomi Ragen נעמי רגן – Novelist, Playwright and Journalist on Bleak House – The Sordid Story of the Michal Tal Case […]

  • […] the Supreme Court overturned a ruling against me by the same judge. Details of the first time are here and […]

  • Florence Dion

    Dear Naomi Ragen,
    I just finished reading The tenth Song and couldn’t put it down.
    I love the way you write and wanted to know more about you.
    It was just a coincidence that I saw what you went through in your
    own life and can’t imagine how cruel people can be.
    I’m eighty two years old and your books give me great pleasure and insight.
    There’s always more to learn and you are a wonderful teacher.
    I wish you the best and please keep on writing.

  • Tori Davila

    Mrs. Ragen,

    All of this sounds utterly despicable and I’m surely not alone in expressing my sincerest condolences. You have, from the look of it, been unconscionably victimized by a flawed judicial system that is not worthy of Israel. As to your statement regarding a potential loss of your honor, let me say this. I just finished “The Covenant” and was intensely moved, to tears in fact. The effervescence, kindness, and humanity of that novel cannot be counterfeited. Remember that lies and malicious allegations can never bring you dishonor in the eyes of those that have read and contemplated the meaning of your beautiful works. May God bless you and your family.