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.


The Little Boy I Carried

Newspaper columns are, by their nature, a place to explore the particulars of social events closely aligned to one’s own culture, to a specific time, and a very specific place. Most of the time, I follow that format, talking of current events and social problems that affect my own friends, neighbors and countrymen. But every once in a while, I come across an event that crosses all cultural, religious and national barriers: a life passage that affects all those who partake in what is commonly known as the “human condition.”

The marriage of a child is one of those events.

Like every other milestone, it too has its contradictions, its bittersweetness. I, who am not prone to tears from the cloying lyrics of schmaltzy musicals, find myself humming “Sunrise, sunset,” wondering, really, where is the little boy I carried when I look over the suit my six-foot son has chosen to wear under the wedding canopy in a few days.

My favorite filmmaker, Giuseppe Tornatore, who made a number of the most wonderful movies in history including, “Cinema Paradiso,” also made a much lesser-known film called “Everyboy’s Fine” (Stanno Tutti Bene). It’s about an aging father who goes off to visit all of his married children to see how they’re doing. In the film, there is a recurrent dream image in which the father sees himself and his wife as young parents walking along the beach with their little children dancing around them, when suddenly strings appear out the sky. Everyone looks up, and the children, despite parental protest, grab hold of the strings, and slowly a large air balloon bears them aloft as their parents look on helplessly from below.

If I hadn’t been through this before with my daughter, I’d feel a bit panic-stricken. Now, of course, I am wiser. I understand the compensations. Children will grow up. When you hold them in your arms and think they are yours forever, you’re mistaken. They are simply lent to you for a relatively short period of time. But they do atone for their crime of growing up by providing you with grandchildren, some of whom look remarkably like the “little boy (you) carried.”

With my own son, his growth coincided with certain milestones in the country’s history which give it special meaning. He was born in August, 1973, two short months before the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War. I remember the moment we had to go down to the bomb shelter in our Jerusalem apartment building. The image of my infant son sleeping peacefully in his carry cot on the cold gray cement floor as we adults fearfully discussed the invasion is etched upon my memory. When we emerged into the light of day again, and into the new reality of thousands of casualties falling on all fronts, I wondered what would happen when he was old enough to be a soldier in the Israeli army.

I thought about it again at his swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall the year he turned eighteen. Tall, dark, tanned by the strong Middle East sun in the airforce camp where he’d done his basic training, he walked with his head held high among other Israeli soldiers.

His bride was born years after the Yom Kippur War. But her father, a career soldier who lost an arm in a training accident, was there in the midst of it while my son slept peacefully, protected by him and men like him.

To the bittersweet universal experience of raising a child and seeing him fly away to his own life, there is a special compensating joy here in Israel: that our children have come through the wars, the terrorist attacks, their army service, and Israel’s dangerous roads, well and happy, ready to start the story once again; ready to hold their own children in their arms, to watch them grow, blossom, then fly away.

A few days before the wedding, I was walking past the old Bikur Cholim hospital in downtown Jerusalem when a young couple emerged and got into a waiting cab. The young woman held a newborn wrapped in the same type of blue blanket that had swaddled my own son twenty-six years before. The young mother looked down at her child with love and pride and concern. Her job, I thought, has just begun. And mine, I realized, tears coming to my eyes, was finished.

I hadn’t done badly. I’d raised him, after all, ”to Torah, to good deeds, and (now), to the wedding canopy”, the three ultimate blessings bestowed on new parents at a child’s birth.

Of course, our relationship will continue, G-d willing. We are part of each other’s lives – such important, irreplaceable parts. But the parenting has to end. There is nothing more ludicrous than an aging mother telling a fifty year- old son to put on a sweater… I vow not to be one of those.

I will watch as the balloon rises. I will wave to him and his bride as they smile down on us, soaring up into a future of their own making. And I will whisper a prayer that their trip will turn out to be as blessed as my own.

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