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.


Beautiful Native Flower

The tragedy of street violence among Israeli teenagers claimed two innocent lives last week. As I listened to the usual “blah blah” of talking heads discussing how to deal with this urgent social problem, it occurred to me that part of the solution might just already exist, the product of a unique blend of Israeli wisdom and compassion.

When my eldest was in her first year of college at Hebrew University and strapped for cash, she was recruited by a college program called “PERACH.” All she’d have to do, they told her, was meet with a child twice a week and help her with her homework.

The little girl was nine years old, the third child out of four and only daughter of a simple housewife and an electrician living in a poor neighborhood in northern Jerusalem. She was a sad little girl, dressed in ugly clothes, and suffering from neglect and passive abuse. More than anything, her self-image was badly in need of nurturing.

Yes, my daughter went over her math and English and grammar homework with her. But she also began bringing her some pretty clothes, and some toys. “She’s sweet,” my daughter would tell me. “Such a sweet, good child.” After a few months, my daughter reported, the child’s mother, amazed that a stranger had found so many good qualities in her daughter, also began to look at her child with a kinder eye. When my daughter graduated, she gave the little girl a parting gift: all our family’s Barbies and accessories.

And although my daughter is a married woman now with children of her own, and the little girl she tutored is already in high school, they’ve never stopped being in touch. And it’s quite possible, that they never will.

A uniquely Israeli educational project employing university students to mentor disadvantaged youngsters, PERACH (meaning “flower” in Hebrew) began by accident, 25 years ago.

One cold winter night, Rony Attar, a 26 year-old graduate student at the Weizman Institute, and his wife, stopped their car to pick up two shivering young hitchhikers. They turned out to be brothers, the children of a poor widow who, having no choice, had enrolled them in a boarding school for disadvantaged youngsters.

The brothers hated it. It was on this night they’d decided to run away. The Attars drove the boys back to their boarding school. However, a few days later, unable to forget them, the Attars returned, and asked permission to take the boys into their home. For the next two years, Rony and his wife helped the kids with their homework, took them to libraries and museums and hikes around the country. Staggered by the boys’ educational and personal progress, Rony went to his professor, Chaim Harrari, dean of Weizman’s Fineberg Graduate School, with an idea: Why not recruit other Weizman college students to tutor and mentor disadvantaged youngsters from nearby Yavneh? Professor Harrari, from the goodness of his heart, agreed to take such a project under his wing. Beginning with 20 college student volunteers and an equal number of youngsters, PERACH was born.

This year PERACH celebrates its 25th anniversary. With funds from the government’s Council of Higher Education and The Ministry of Education, the good deed of one thoughtful college student and the work of one dedicated professor has become a nationwide project of international renown. With 550 full time employees in 8 regional centers located in Israeli universities, PERACH now has 20,000 college student tutors who reach out to 45,000 disadvantaged youngsters.

The children, who are recommended by their school counselors, are drawn from every possible segment of Israel’s population: Arab youngsters from the Galilee, young Bedouin from the Negev, secular Israeli kids from south Tel Aviv slums, Ultra-Orthodox boys and girls from Jerusalem and B’nai Brak.

Each year, PERACH coordinators — recruited from former tutors — recruit college students and then contact school counselors for lists of needy youngsters. Coordinators individually match youngsters with mentors. In addition, college students also give after-school enrichment classes.

But it’s not only the children who benefit from project.

Noam is ten years old, the child of a garbage collector and housewife living in a small development town. In the past, teased by his classmates, Noam was ashamed of his parents, and became increasingly involved in petty thefts and street violence, hanging out with older boys and smoking. The school counselor wasn’t even sure he was worth helping. A PERACH counselor felt differently. She matched Noam with Jonathan, a 24 year-old, second year electrical engineering student struggling to keep up with tuition costs.

Jonathan took Noam to see the sunset on the beach, to visit museums, milk cows, and up hiking trails. As a reward for improving his study habits, Jonathan helped Noam build a beautiful kite. Proud of his relationship with Jonathan, Noam developed new self-confidence. His grades improved so much, that a math teacher made him take a test twice. He got 100% both times. According to his parents, thanks to his tutor, Noam not only became a good student; he became a nicer person.

As for Jonathan, the rewards were not only monetary: “Noam taught me to see the interesting and exciting side of everyday things. I too became a more well-rounded person, and was enriched by lots of small, wonderful experiences.”

Begun with a single seed of lovingkindness, PERACH has bloomed into a beautiful, native flower. Given what is happening in our streets and classrooms, I say let’s water PERACH more lavishly, allowing its dedicated director of eighteen years, Amos Carmeli, the additional resources he needs to expand the program to reach the thousands of Israeli children obviously in need of its unique brand of personal care.

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