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.

Naomi will be speaking about her just-published tenth novel The Devil in Jerusalem (which has been chosen by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency as the number one Jewish book of the season) on her November US lecture tour.
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, she stubbornly refuses to answer any questions, cautioning her children to say nothing. “שטן
Brought in to investigate, Jerusalem detective Binah Tzedek, herself a young mother, carefully peels back layer after layer of secrets and lies, following a dark, winding path through Jerusalem’s Old City, kabbalists, mystical ancient texts and terrifying cult rituals until she comes face-to-face with the horrifying truth that has held a young American family captive.
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.
“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.

Rachel’s Story – The Rabbinic Court’s Pathetic Verdict


I have more news about Rachel S. The Rabbinical Court of Jerusalem has handed down its final decision in her case.

Just a reminder, they were ruling on the suggestion of the social worker that she be allowed to send letters to her children. After ten years.

This is what the rabbis decided (emphasis added by me, NR):


Rabbi Yissochor Dov Heiger
Rabbi Binyomin Levi
Rabbi Mordechai Toledano
9 October 2005

The Court has heard the decision of the social worker Ruth E. and the reaction of the father. We also have before us the previous suggestions of the social worker and we also agree there is no doubt that every effort should be made to re-establish the relationship between the mother and her children – even if only partially. This is primarily for the good of the children who are obligated to honor their mother, which the Torah equates with honoring their father.

This idea has been expressed by us previously.

It should be noted that previous decisions of the Higher Rabbinical Court not only expressed this view, but also decided concrete steps to enforce it, including sending both sides to educational advisors for therapy to rehabilitate the mother-child connection.

But along with this, the Court doesn’t see any way to enforce these decisions against the wishes of the children themselves and their steadfast refusal of any connection at all with their mother. This seems to be part of a well-established and stubborn coalition between all the children, the married ones and the younger ones.

THE MOTHER TOO IS RESPONSIBLE IN NO SMALL MEASURE FOR CREATING THIS ABNORMAL AND PROBLEMATIC SITUATION WITH HER “ROUGH” [I can’t find a better translation for this word, but they mean me and my play no doubt and these e-mails, and making a public fuss over having her children stolen, NR)] AND UNFEELING BEHAVIOR TOWARDS HER CHILDREN, THEIR HONOR AND GOOD NAME, EVEN IF ONLY BECAUSE OF HER DESPAIR AND HELPLESSNESS. [Right, she’s a publicity hound…]

In any case, after much consideration and and long and considered weighing of all factors, we don’t find that interfering with this situation with court orders and sanctions and penalties would be useful, and in fact it’s not even clear against whom these sanctions should be addressed. [!]

Therefore, we feel the Court has exhausted all its resources, and so we recommend the case be closed.

This is the majority opinion.

The minority opinion:

Before us is a case that the court decisions were not enforced, because enforcement was dependent on a number of factors: the father, the older children, the close and extended family, and the community and their rabbis.

After the Court realized that it couldn’t solve this problem, and brought forth the problem of the equal honoring of father and mother, we reached a dead end, because of the lack of cooperation – to put it mildly – of both sides, and the community, and but mainly because the father continues to cloak himself in Torah law and the instructions of his rabbis in hiding the children from their mother.

Today, after such an extended period of separation between mother and child with the support of the the extended family to prevent any connection between mother and children, the Court is convinced that the only chance of bringing the mother and children together would be through the auspices of the father’s rabbis, who have it in their power to effect a reconciliation within the family. The only option left is to invite them to the Court to clarify the situation, and to direct the woman to her husband’s rabbis. We may assume that if the mother will show her true readiness to take guidance and instruction from these Rabbis, on how to bring the hearts of mother and child together as one, this readiness of hers will create an opening for light to come through from the end of the tunnel, to bring father close to son, and the heart of children to their mother and their hearts together will be brought to the one God, as Rashi [a medieval Biblical commentator] states in his commentary on the Biblical verse “seventy souls”: all will be joined into one when they serve the same God.

Therefore, if the woman will within thirty days agree to turn to the great sage, Rav Auerbach, Shlita, allowing him to deal with this situation, or someone the rabbi assigns to deal with it, the Court with continue to deal with this case. If she refuses, the case will be closed, as agreed by the majority.”


By the way, it was to the great sage Rav Auerbach whom Rachel turned ten years ago, before she started this case in court in the first place. She asked him a simple thing: “Before I agree to let you decide this case, please show me you have the power to do something by bringing me my ten year old daughter for five minutes, here, in your house.”

The Rav was not able to do this. This is when Rachel went to court in the first place.

I am outraged at this decision which reeks of the Taliban.

We will have another day in court as Israel’s Supreme Court reviews with decision come January. I would like the help and backing of every women’s organization to fight this evil and to make Israel, circa 2005, a country which truly honors and respects its women, and not some version of Saudi Arabia in rabbis’ clothing.

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