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.


More About “Copyright Infringement”

Dr. Michael Factor is an expert in intellectual property law in Israel. He has a blog in which he writes about cases involving copyright infringement.  He has just read all 92 pages of the recent judgment against me in the Sarah Shapiro case, and has posted his conclusions, which are very favorable to me. Thank you Michael!

Dr. Factor has confirmed what I have believed all along, that I have done nothing wrong, and given me hope that I will ultimately prevail in this case, as I prevailed in the Michal Tal case.

From Dr. Factor’s blog entry:

To find Ragen guilty, Judge Joseph Shapira performed legal gymnastics to have the case admitted at all, since there were strong grounds for dismissing the case altogether under the Statute of Limitations, as seven years had passed since Shapiro became aware of the similarity. He took the position that the ongoing sale of Ragen’s book made copyright infringement an actionable tort on an ongoing basis. Such a position makes some sense if Ragen was selling bootleg copies of Shapiro’s book, but that is not the case here.

Shapiro’s book is a non-fictional, somewhat autobiographical guide to making a marriage work, about adjusting oneself to one’s surroundings. Ragen’s story is about getting out of a situation that’s wrong, about taking control of one’s life. I think that a fair use defense is appropriate. Furthermore, to the extent that Ragen’s work was inspired by Shapiro’s I think that a satire defence is possible – although difficult under Israel Law. We also note that Shapiro did not create the idea of employing a home- help. These have been employed by countless young mothers under stress. (I believe that my mother employed an au-pair when I was a baby. That wasn’t plagiarism either).

I accept that copyright covers all literary work, regardless of quality. A couple of pages of dialogue may therefore by covered by copyright law. Nevertheless, the text in question is not memorable in its own right. We are not discussing a witty aphorism but simply a conversation. My main criticism of the ruling is that it places the bar for literary novelty simply too high. It is bad policy to consider copyright infringement in a case where two pages of dialogue in one book bear a similarity to a couple of pages of dialogue in a different book. This is counter-productive to the aim of copyright law which is to enrich by promoting creativity, not to stifle authors. Koheleth son of David (Ecclesiastes) was right on one level that there is nothing new under the sun. The similarities between Shapiro’s book and Ragen’s novel warrant a footnote in a critical edition of Ragen’s book or an academic paper. Nothing more.

In Jephte’s Daughter, another novel by Ragen, the story relates to the daughter of a Rabbi growing up in New York. When I read it, I was reminded of Chaim Potok’s novel The Chosen. There was a scene where the girl and two of her friends experimented with make up in the girl’s bedroom. This reminded me of a scene in the 1980 hit movie Grease. I have no doubt that Ragen has read the Chosen and seen Grease. Whether these influenced her consciously or not, there is no case of copyright infringement or plagiarism. (Note, I also believe that the Warner Bros character Bugs Bunny was inspired by Groucho Marx, although I’ve never seen any reference to this in print).

It is worth noting that the plagiarism cases against Ragen were filed around the time that Naomi Ragen challenged segregated seating on bus routes serving the ultra-Orthodox community by filing a suit to the Supreme Court on grounds of gender discrimination. A lot of the flack Ragen’s been under for alleged plagiarism seems to be driven by ultra-Orthodox opposition to the position she has taken on this issue which some see as threatening their life-style. Many of her books are sympathetic to some aspects of the ultra-Orthodox lifestyle and critical of other aspects of the same. Some members of the Ultra-Orthodox do not take kindly to criticism, and may find her novels offensive.

In my opinion, as outlined above, this ruling established the facts of the case, but gets the law wrong. I believe it should be reversed on appeal.

The Biblical Sotah from which Ragen plagiarized her title, is discussed in Numbers 5: 11-31. She is a woman accused by her husband of having been inpregnated by another. In a trial by ordeal, the sotah drinks bitter waters, and, if guilty, swells up, and dies. If innocent, she and her husband are able to put this issue behind them and she is blessed with offspring. Ragen may have been impregnated by exposure to Shapiro’s book, but her work is an original literary creation, and is admitted as such by Judge Shapiro. I believe that she deserves to be blessed with (literary) fruit for being wrongfully accused.

To read Dr. Factor’s post, click here.

Dr. Factor also blogged about the Shapiro case back in 2007, saying that:

… Shapiro appears to claim that the odd sentence of Ragen shows similarity to sentences in her book. I would argue that even were Shapiro to prove that Ragen was inspired by her motifs and sentences, well so what? The elements in question are subsidiary to the main plot.

From my familiarity with Israel’s copyright case-law, I can’t see the charges sticking. This may be why the charges are being brought in the Rabbinical Courts and not in the district courts. (Ms Shapiro claims to be bringing the charges in the Rabbinic Courts because she is a Haredi). Regan does not need to accept the jurisdiction of the Rabbinical Courts in this issue and need not agree to arbitration. Furthermore, it is unlikely that the Israel civil courts will uphold a rabbinical ruling on copyright infringement.

I suspect that, inspired by the Dan Brown case heard in the UK recently, Tal and Shapiro believe that they can make easy money on this. Dan Brown was vindicated, see Author of the ‘Da Vinci Code’ Vindicated Again, and I think Ragen will be, at least in the Shapiro case.

In fact, when I refused to appear before a rabbinical court of three dayanim [judges], of whom only one spoke English (though he did promise to “explain everything” to the two English-illiterate judges), Shapiro’s lawyer (Gilad Corinaldi) sent me a letter threatening to sue me for my refusal. Really, what choice did I have? It was in reality a court of only one judge, and as such, according to its own rules, unqualified to hear the case. Moreover, it was very unlikely that I would get a fair hearing in a haredi rabbinical court, given the long-standing hostility of that community towards me.

Shortly afterward, Shapiro obtained permission from the rabbinical court to sue me in the civil court system.

1 comment to More About “Copyright Infringement”

  • Rabbi Fleishig

    So it’s just as I suspected – as soon as Naomi Ragen goes after the segregated buses, the bus segregators go after her. Just shows you to never to mess with those “pious” souls who desperately want everybody to believe they are G-d’s mouthpiece here on earth.