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.


Forty Years in Israel

What a day it has been! A bag filled with nails and explosives detonated next to a bus stop near Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station, injuring 39.  A sixty year old woman died of her injuries, and eight others are seriously wounded.  The rest, thank God, will be released soon from the hospital.  And while we in Jerusalem were calling all our children to make sure they are safe, parents in Beersheba and Ashdod were running to their bomb shelters as “code red” warnings blasted through the streets, warning of a bazooka bombardment from Gaza.

This was not the article I had planned to write today.  I wanted to write about the 40 year reunion of our aliyah recently held with friends and neighbors who had lived near us in our first Jewish Agency apartment in a brand new neighborhood built for religious olim called Greater Sanhedria or as we olim broke our teeth trying to say in Hebrew: Sanhedria HaMurchevet.


We met each other as young parents of small children, each of us from a different part of the planet.  In my apartment building alone, my next door neighbors were Russian doctors from Moscow, downstairs was Rabbi Toledano and his beautiful wife Jacqueline from Morocco and their ten children.  A family from Stockholm, and Great Britain, and a number of Americans were scattered on other floors.

And here I was – forty years later – meeting many of my neighbors again.  The beards were longer, the women almost all in head coverings. Almost all of us had grandchildren.  I thought my twelve were an achievement, but the women at my table talked about twenty and more.  We had been abundantly blessed.  And as we shared our remembrances, our hearts grew young again, filled with fondness for those strange, difficult and ultimately nourishing days we had shared as new immigrants. It was our neighbors, we remembered, who became our dear friends, and who had made it possible for us to successfully complete our transition to full- fledged citizens of Israel.

One told the story of how at the beginning, when the neighborhood was still unpaved, without a grocery store or single telephone or bus line, it was so off the map that a cabdriver once argued with him that his apartment couldn’t possibly exist where he said it did.  So he was forced to get out and walk home.

I remembered that when we moved in with our newborn daughter Bracha, there were only ten families in the entire street.  That first winter, the apartments were freezing cold until we new immigrants realized there was no super for the building, and it was up to us to order oil for the furnace!  That’s how green we were.

But the most revealing story about the neighborhood is this one: Right after I gave birth to my second child Asher, I started suffering terrible stomach pains which turned out to be gall bladder related.  Alone, without family, with a newborn and a two year old, I was forced to go into the hospital for an operation.

“How will we possibly manage?” I asked my husband, who was working at a new job.  “Who will take care of you and the children? What will you eat? How will you keep your job?”

It turned out I needn’t have worried.  With the precision of a military operation, and without asking any questions, women in the neighborhood organized into a volunteer force. Every day, someone else babysat my children. Meals were prepared and left at our home. My husband kept going to work, and the children were fine. Two weeks later when I got home, I found the house clean and the refrigerator stocked.

We had no family, and so we new immigrants became each others’ family.  I could never have survived the difficulties of our first few years in Israel if not for the amazing human beings who helped me, and whom I tried to help in return.  We began a tradition then of making the Purim seuda (festive meal) together, five couples, and children of various ages whose numbers grew and grew with time, until they got married and started making their own Purim meals. For forty years we have been meeting each Purim. I always make dessert, my famous apple pie.  When we were younger and slimmer and the kids still came, I added a lemon meringue and pecan. Now I throw in a fat-free angel food.

Wherever I have lived in Israel, I always consider my true friends and neighbors to be the people I met at the beginning in that raw, windswept, road-less, grocery-less, bus-less new immigrant town in Northern Jerusalem. I shall never find their like again.

And so, even on a day like today, when our hate-filled enemies are determined to kill and maim the precious inhabitants of the land of Israel, I can say, forty years after the fact, that moving to Israel was the best thing I ever did.


34 comments to Forty Years in Israel

  • Johanna Kraal

    Last week we visited Israel with a group of our church.
    Israel is so special for me for all the places we know from the Bible. But more than that: a country only existing 63 years under very difficult circumstances with everything so well organised. We stayed at a kibbutz in the Negev, with trees and flowers, perfect housing and lovely food, as an oasis in the desert.To me it is a wonder what is achieved in Israel. On the airport I bought the book, Jephte’s daugther. It was fascinating and I’m going looking for the other books from you.
    There are many enemies of your country or critics, but there are many people with a deepfelt sympathy and love for Israel.Blessings from the Netherlands.

  • Sylvia

    Mazel Tov Naomi! I keep everything you write! It makes me feel like a part of the great nation of Israel.

  • This is great — it really puts everything into perspective beautifully! And perspective is the hardest thing to preserve day to day.

  • Lynn M

    Dear Naomi
    thank you so much for all your very intersting articles. I always look forward with anticipation to reading them. In three weeks time a friend and myself are going to be visiting Israel. We will be doing as tour and we finish in Jerusalem where we will be spending a further three nights. I am looking forward to this very much. I am also looking forward to being able to purchase some of your books while I am in Israel.Do you have any advice on what we could do for some of the three nights we will have spare. I was also wondering if you could point me in the right direction to donate some money to the poor in Israel. I have heard that some of the Holocaust survivors find it hard to get together all the food needed for passover & wondered if I could help out one or two of them. Thank you

  • Helene Leavitt

    Dear Naomi,
    I can’t even begin to imagine what life was like in Israel 40 years ago…..But reading your powerful and beautiful short story made me feel like I was instantly getting into a novel written by you and I became mesmorized. What a special and beautiful gift you have…..
    In all seriousness, this part of your life, that you describe, could be a setting for another book.
    You are truly blessed.
    Much hatzlacha –
    Helene L.

  • Ben Rappaport

    I live on a small Moshav Shitufi. Originally from Brooklyn. In 1975 I got a call-up (“tzav-8”) to immediately report to my unit. My wife was over a week in the hospital. I still had to work and care for our 3 children. We both had no immediate family here. As I packed my little bag I walked out of my house and saw our neighbor, Shula, and told her what happened and she told me to ‘go in peace and return in peace.’ The kids will be taken cared. When I returned home all three were ‘adopted’ by my neighbors… This is one story I have retold many times when asked why I love Israel…Ben

  • shira z

    Touching. And still relevant today, in the age of cell phones and wi-fi. I hope it’s ok here to give a public thank-you to Sylvia Waters from Karmiel, an unpaid NBN volunteer, who has been of invaluable assistance in helping get my parents set up in their aliyah.

  • Sydney Faber

    Dear Naomi,
    As new Olim of 2(wonderful) years standing, my wife and i always get huge Chizzuk from your writings. Mazal Tov on this special anniversary and please keep up your amazing work in good health.

  • Esther Edell

    Dear Naomi,
    Mazal tov on 40 years in Eretz Yisrael! I just celebrated the 10th anniversary of my aliyah, the best decision I ever made.
    May G-d grant you many more decades of good health in our Holy Land. May you live to see great grandchildren and great great grandchildren living in peace and prosperity in our beautiful land.

    • ursula beale

      Dear Esther Edell,
      I just spotted your name and it looked familiar. Did you grow up in Vancouver, Canada with your parents Annie and Robert Edell, sister Rachel and brother Joshua?
      If so, it is hard to believe you have made aliyah 10 years ago!
      I’m very happy that this was the best decision you made:)
      You still play the flute? Did you finish your studies in music?
      How are your parents and siblings?
      I used to know your family from Har El synagogue and play music with your mom and dad. Now, I am still teaching in our public school system and liking it very much, even though it is stressful at times. I’m blessed with one delightful, 2 year old grandson and my daughter Melanie and her husband are expecting their second one in May. Unfortunately they live in Toronto, a little too far away to see them often.
      Anyway, this is enough for now as I’m not even sure if you are the Esther Edell from Vancouver.
      With blessings and love from Ursula Beale in Vancouver, Canada

  • Naomi R

    Thank you so much for sharing. It makes me realize how much I have been missing by not making aliyah years ago as I had hoped, but I still have plans to realize my dream very soon. Your books are an inspiration and I’ve read and reread them all. Yasher koach to you and all Klal Yisrael for keeping us well informed.


    Am Israel loves you for bringing the Geula cioser may you be zoche

  • patty m

    pattyWow do I remeber those days, they were great times. Growing up in Sanhedria Murchevet was an positive experince . And I even got to babysit for your kids. good luck on your new book looking forward on reading it, i am a Ragen fan


    Naomi Shalom

    Mazal tov !!!I made Aliyah 43 years ago.
    Your description is great and I just wanted to add that I thank G’ almighty every day for giving us this land and I feel deep joy in my heart every morning for that choice I made in 1967 shortly after the war to leave the Asado and other southamerican “amenities” and come to live to Israel.
    G’bless you and your familly with many more celebrations like this

  • It is wonderful reading of your success in returning to our homeland, and integration here. May you have much nachas from children and grandchildren, and the pleasure of seeing peace in Israel.

  • selma

    What a coincidence! Yesterday I lad a discussion of Tenth Song at the library for 15 ladies (non-jewish) and they almost unanimously loved the book – I explained some judaism to them, but they caught your love for Israel and were fascinated by the descriptions ofthe land. I believe they will read some of your other books now. Mazel Tov on this occasion and I pray you and your family stay well and flourish and that we here can enjoy and comprehend Israeli life through your writing. through your

  • Naomi:

    Conratulations on the arrival of the 40th year of your residence in Israel. May Hashem bless you with a long life, the wisdom and courage you have manifested, to inspire your readers around the world for many more years.

  • Alexander Grobman


    My heartiest congratulations for the 40 years of productive life in Israel. May Hashem bless you with a long life and the continued wisdom, courage and capacity to keep enlightening your readers around the world.

  • Linda Cothern

    What a great article!! Thank you for sharing this!!

  • Carol Eberwein

    Naomi Ragen…

  • Adrienne

    Thank you Naomi for all your newsletters. I have enjoyed them argued against them, cried about them, bragged about them sent them to friends all over the world. I don’t always agree with everything you say but then family sometimes don’t agree. I too have lived here a long time 29 years, I love Israel with all my heart even with the bad times there is always the good. Keep up your good work. Love your books too by the way

  • elizabe levitt

    You are a hero to me and many of my friends.

  • betty steinberg

    Just beautiful, SPECIALLY, in day like today.

  • Beverly Lyons

    I echo the thoughts of others as I type through tear filled eyes. It is sometimes hard to imagine how kind people in Israel can be as you go through the everyday experiences of being honked at a red light because it is about to turn green. But underneath the aggressive exterior there is a kind soul who follow the traditions of looking after those in need. Keep up your great work and I love your web-site.

  • Ahava Leah Tamres

    May we all be so blessed to have 40 wonderful years in Israel with friendships, love, happiness, and Shalom. I made Aliyah almost 3 months ago after dreaming about it for 26 years….Today is difficult but today I am also home, in Israel with Peace in my heart and prayers for those that witnessed this tragedy. Thank you for sharing your story and may we all have such great stories to tell in 40 years.

  • Margie Zachariou

    Hi Naomi
    I’m so glad for your 40 years in Israel, and for your voice to us from the Land…I’ve been reading your writings since 2000. May you have 40 more years filled with every bracha….thank you for your clarity and for being faithful to the truth.

  • Amalia Leubitz

    How wonderful to have another venue to pass on your so well expressed political writing. Many of my email friends became direct subscribers and now you can really go viral! B’hatzlacha.
    Amalia Leubitz

  • Dear Naomi:
    I have read all your books. I live in CT but have much family in Israel. My teenage niece travels on that same bus everyday. The closeness between the USA Jews and the Israeli Jews can never be argued. As is true of the Orthodox and Conservative Jews and women that fall into every sector. Please keep writing your books, each touching on another side of life and love and loyalty. The Tenth Song made me want to leave everything behind and go to Israel. Thank Goodness your books live the life that I can’t live.

  • Dear Naomi,
    There are few writers that can move me to tears. They usually do so for sadness. You, however, move me to tears of joy.
    Toda Rabah


  • Inga Batyah

    Yes, I can say that I agree with every word you say here. I have lived in israel for some 26 years now, and I have never regretted moving here , nor would I ever have made a different choice could I live my life over again. Living in Israel is very hard and challenging but also beautiful and interesting……May The God of Abraham Isac and Jacob continue to bless this country and His people and cause His plans and purposes to come through in spite of the enemies around us…

  • Diane Hunt

    Interesting the French used the cover from Saturday Wife for their version of Jephte’s Daughter!

    New website is terrific!

    Thanks, Naomi.

  • Rachel

    As Shimon HaTzadik said, “the world rests on three things: Torah, avodah ve’gmilut hassadim.” Mazal Tov for celebrating your 40 years in Israel!

  • How amazing to have forty years of such beautiful memories. May you have forty more. Thank you for all you emails over the last few years, which have kept me abreast of some of the “real” perspectives of Israel. Blessings to you from New Zealand

  • Beautiful. As a new olah myself, I found your article very encouraging and heartwarming. Especially today.