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The Devil in Jerusalem (שטן בירושלים)


The Devil in Jerusalem 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.

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.

Some Reviews of The Devil in Jerusalem

Jerusalem Post

A captivating intense read … The piercing, heartbreaking story will not be forgotten quickly by the reader.

Booklist (starred review)

Ragen draws on the tactics of cult leaders and on victim testimony to craft this exploration of religious fanaticism… Readers of Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places (2009) and Emma Donoghue’s Room (2010) will be drawn to this terrifying and compelling novel.


This is one of the best books I’ve read in 2015 so far! … The religious implications made are not unique to Judaism or even Israel, and there is a sad realization that what happened to Daniella and her family is not that rare. The premise is terrifying, but the execution of it all was so engrossing, I could hardly put it down.

Working Mother

The Devil in Jerusalem by Naomi Ragen is an intense thriller, but even more upsetting is that this story was based on a true event. Readers will be kept riveted to their seat with this gripping narrative.


“The topic is very disturbing. The author tells of a family very involved with their Jewish religion that becomes a cult due to the leader’s psychopathic behavior… A page turner.” — Rated 5

“I can’t believe this book was over 300 pages! I read it so quickly – it was probably the most compelling book I have read.” —Rated 5


Heart pounding tension and disturbing but real narrative – this is one of Ragen’s finest works” — 5 stars

“This is a very well-written, gripping, and suspenseful novel that is based on true horrendous events.” — 5 stars

Book Group Discussion Questions for The Devil in Jerusalem

  1. The title of this book can be seen as a metaphor.  To what do you think the title can refer?
  2. The main character of this book is Daniella, the mother of the children.  How do you feel about this character?  Did your feelings change from the beginning to the end of the book?  If so, why?
  3. After reading this book, how do you feel about the widespread acceptance of kabbalah studies and mystics into the Jewish world.  What was your feeling before reading it?
  4. Describe the relationship between Daniella and her mother.  Had Daniella had a different family situation, would she have made different choices?  What in her upbringing contributed to  what happened to her?
  5. Shlomie was born into a secular family, before finding his way back to traditional Judaism.  What is your opinion of him?  How would his life have been different if he had remained “Steven?”  Does his story have widespread implications? If so, what are they?
  6. Bina Tzedek is a modern Orthodox detective.  How does this case affect her life?  What does the juxtaposition of Bina to Daniella  say about Orthodoxy and religious observance in the modern world?   Do you agree or disagree?
  7. Did Rabbanit Toledo behave properly?
  8. How is it possible to stop such a case in the future?
  9. The real mother in this case is now seeking  to regain custody of her children her ex-husband.  If you were the judge in her case, what would you do?  Why?
  10. In what way does the prologue in this book foreshadow the story that is to come?
  11. Who are the heroes in this book?
  12. Who is this book undergoes the most significant transformation?
  13. Who is Shem Tov?  In what way is he a product of his upbringing and environment, and in what way is he totally removed from them?  Had Shem Tov been born to a completely secular family in America, would he have been a different person?

Hebrew Translation of The Devil in Jerusalem

The Hebrew translation, שטן בירושלים, was published in August 2015.

.התרגום העברי של הספר, שטן בירושלים, יצא לאור באוגוסט 2015

.הקלק על תמונת העטיפה ללמוד עוד

יהודית רותם – ישראל היום

קראתי אותו, כפי שקראתי את כל אחד מעשרת ספריה הקודמים – בשקיקה. הקדשתי לו לילה שלם, באין יכולת להפסיק … מהפך דפים. אולם הפעם, נוסף על היקסמותי מן הקריאה, ביעבע בי רגש זר ומוזר – הזוועה. כי הספר הזה מבוסס על אירועים אמיתיים ומסמרי שיער שהתרחשו בתוככי משפחה ירושלמית, שילדיה עונו בידי חסידיה של כת דתית, ובידיעתה ובהסכמתה של האם.

שטן בירושלים

סלונה וואו איזה ספר מדהים! קשה ומצמרר אבל מעניין ואי אפשר להפסיק לקרוא. התחלתי אתמול ולא הצלחתי להרדם !בלילה, סיימתי היום עם עיניים דומעות. ספר מרתק

7 ערוץ

סיפורה של נעמי רגן שטן בירושלים, נפתח בתיאור הגעת הילדים לבית החולים כשהטיפול שהם מקבלים אינו מלווה בדאגה אימהית קונבנציונלית. האם מתעקשת להסתיר דבר מה ולטעון כי מדובר בתאונות בית שגרתיות. חקירת משטרה נפתחת בעניין ומכאן הסיפור מתחיל לשעוט בשל התיאורים הקשים התלבטתי האם להמליץ על הספר, אך דומני כי מי שעוסק באזהרה מכת כזו או אחרת הצצות בכל פעם במקום אחר בארץ, יסכים כי חשיבותו של הספר רבה מכדי להתעלם ממנו