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.

Subscribe to Naomi's Blog

Enter your email address to subscribe to Naomi's blog.





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

Women of the World, Unite! You Have Nothing to Lose but Your Illusions

On September 12-13, I had the great privilege of being invited to speak at a Symposium on Women Victims of Fundamentalism and Domestic Violence, held under the auspices of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France. Twenty countries were represented, and over 150 heads of women’s rights organization’s world-wide participated.

As I listened to Princess Widjan Ali of Jordan describe the legal framework that encourages “honor” killings in her country; Mrs. Shoukria Haidar, chairwoman of the Afghan woman’s rights organization NEGAR, talk about the unbelievable oppression of women under the Taliban regime; and Margaret Komuhang of Uganda of the Pan African Women’s Liberation Organization describe the sexual mutilation of young girls in the name of custom, a little red light went on in my head. All fundamentalist religions are the same: they distort and corrupt religious teachings, using religion as a weapon to beat women into submission.

Today, however, these weapons don’t work. From Jerusalem to Nigeria to Lebanon, there is a cadre of educated women well-versed in the sacred texts of their religion. It was fascinating to hear Mrs. Nouara Recham, of the Association of Muslim Women of Eastern France, go through the teachings of the Koran, proving that “honor” killings, mutilations, and veilings had no source in the text.

Jewish women can and are making the same case when it comes to the social norms governing birth control, marriage, divorce, child custody, and women’s place in society as opposed to what’s written in our Torah.

I was encouraged too, by the report of Mrs. Olof Olafsdottir, secretary of the Steering Committee for Equality between Men and Women of the Council of Europe. Their proposals include removing abusive men from the home, instead of having women flee to shelters; speeding up court cases, and providing free legal advice to victims. Most important is the proposal to make domestic abuse a crime against the State, as it is in Germany. When domestic abuse becomes, for example, a crime against public order, the State is then a party to the dispute, and responsible for the protection and well-being of every victim. In Canada, 57% of all murdered women are killed by their partners. In Europe, it is one out of two.

Unlike some of my fellow Jewish women activists who harbor the illusion that change will come to the Jewish world through the front door, with a groundswell of sudden rabbinic conscience, I have no such illusions. On the contrary, I believe that change will come — as it always does in Judaism – through the back door; through little, courageous, much vilified organizations like Rabbi Morgenstern’s Beit Din for Agunot; through women simply getting annulments wherever they can and going on with their lives; and through more militant and outspoken Jewish women’s organizations. It will come when the rabbinic establishment has no choice but to accept women’s rights as a fait accompli.

A few years ago, the National Council of Jewish Women presented 30,000 signatures to the chief rabbis of Israel, asking them to convene a world conference on agunot. The signatures, and the plea, was ignored. This year, the NCJW sent out invitations to 100 rabbinical leaders, once again inviting them to participate in such a conference. I plan to print each rabbi’s name and his response in this column.

What I came back with from this conference is the following: As much as we Jews like to think we are special and our problems unique, when it comes to women’s rights, Jewish women are in exactly the same boat as our sisters all over the world suffering from a false interpretation religious dogma which encourages their social imprisonment, death or injury. For the Koran, it turns out, never calls for either honor killings, mutilation, or the criminal excesses of the Taliban. This was the bright idea of the religious leaders and the community. Sound familiar? Likewise, our Torah never says that a woman has to stay married to a man she despises, or that a marriage is impossible to dissolve without the husband’s permission. Our rabbis decided that. And now — in face of all the untold suffering and intolerable injustice this is causing — it is time for them to have the courage to undecide it.

To help our religious leadership understand that patience and time are running out, the moment has come for Jewish women to raise their voices in international forums, becoming part of the world-wide struggle of women for equality and justice. We need the support of other women. And we need to be involved in supporting their just and very similar struggles. Perhaps then, our rabbis, imams, and priests will finally sit up and listen. Perhaps then, our cries will simply be too loud — or too embarrassing — to ignore.

Comments are closed.