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.


What Religious Women Want

On Thursday, the Fast of Esther, religious women gathered outside Maasiyahu prison to make a point: Every Jewish woman who marries according the present halachic ceremony acceptable in Orthodox Judaism is a potential prisoner. The current state of Jewish divorce all over the world is a disgrace, and should a husband choose to lock his wife into a marriage she wishes to escape, she might as well be behind bars with a life sentence.

Unlike the popular myth, propagated in religious circles, agunot, or chained women, are not a small handful of special cases, cases in which a husband drowns at sea without witnesses, or disappears into the wilds of Siberia without a trace. An agunah is also a woman who wants a divorce and whose husband refuses to hand one over in the form of a “get,” for reasons ranging from a sincere desire to reconcile, to brutality, vengefulness, or simple greed to extort material possessions and custody arrangements. These women number in the thousands.

The cry outside the prison gates is a cry to the Rabbinical Courts who are entrusted by G-d, and the Torah, and the State of Israel, to see that justice is done, compassion exercised, and the weak protected from the strong.

Below is a heartfelt plea from women, many of whom are deeply committed to the Torah and to Halacha, to the Rabbinical Courts and to the Rabbinic Authorities all over the world, to rise to the challenge of fulfilling their tasks in a way that will bring glory to Hashem’s name, not the opposite. It is a list of basic demands that any ordinary person can see are just, and halachically sound.

It is our hope that Rabbinical Courts all over the world, and in Israel in particular, will take immediate steps to institute these simple and just requests, transforming Jewish Courts into the safest refuge for any woman seeking a just divorce, as was clearly the intention of our Torah and of our Sages.

The following was composed by well-known lawyer and advocate of women’s rights, Susan Weiss, who is Chairperson of Yad L’isha – the Max Morrison Legal Aid Service and Hotline- and adopted by ICAR, (International Coalition for Agunah Rights).

March 4, 2001. The Requests of ICAR to the Rabbinical Courts:

We ask the Courts:

1. To give final decisions on the matters of divorce within one year from the time of filing.

2. To separate decisions concerning divorce from custody, alimony, property division, or monetary issues.

3. Not to participate in, allow, or condone the extortion of women by their husbands in exchange for providing her a get.

4. To utilize fully the sanctions granted the Rabbinical Courts in Israel empowering them to jail recalcitrant husbands who refuse to grant a get despite the Courts’ decision that the woman deserves one.

5. To grant a “forced divorce” [chiyuv get] in cases where the woman says “Ma’ous Alay” –i.e. my husband is “objectionable to me.” [note: Maimonidies says a woman may divorce a man for any reason, if she finds him objectionable. This is hardly ever accepted practice in contemporary rabbinic rulings].

6. To grant a forced divorce [chiyuv get] after eighteen months of separation between husband and wife.

7. To annul marriages in the case of “mekach ta’ut.” [note: that is, when the wife was deceived about her mate at the time of marriage. This could mean she was unaware he was a drug addict, homosexual, had a violent temper, frequented prostitutes, or any other situation which would have prevented her from willingly tying the knot. Presently, hardly anyone uses this valid halachic tool, and those who do are vilified. This means a drug addict homosexual wife-beater can presently extort the last penny from a nice Jewish girl, or keep her celibate until she’s eighty. The halachically correct application of the tool of annulment would put an end to this kind of villainy in the name of Torah forever.]

8. Not to make the granting of a religious divorce conditional on the transfer of custody and financial issues from the civil courts to the Rabbinic Courts.

9. To improve the functioning of the special courts for agunot.

10. To improve the functioning of the Rabbinic Courts by:

  • Typing up and recording the protocols [note: you can imagine what goes on if this has to be a demand…!].
  • Justifying court decisions with written, reasoned judgments [Note: right now, all the judges have to do is say Yes or No. No reason.]
  • Holding court hearings consistently between the hours of 9:00-2:00.
  • Insisting all hearings take place in the presence of all three judges.
  • Showing a polite and respectful attitude towards each and every member of the public who comes before it.

We ask that the Judges of Israel, who are the teachers and interpreters of Jewish law, take responsibility for the unbearable condition in which Jewish women asking for a divorce now find themselves. As it is written in Proverbs, [21:13] ‘ He who closes his ears against the cries of the downtrodden, shall also cry himself, but he shall not be answered.’

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