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Naomi Ragen Wins A Second Plagiarism Suit in the Supreme Court

Yesterday I went to the Supreme Court of Israel with the hope that finally justice would be done and District Court Judge Yosef Shapira’s insulting, ugly, and false judgment against me for copyright infringement (which he called “literary theft” – something which simply does not exist) would be overturned, as was his previous judgment against me in another case.

I had hardly entered the courtroom when Chief Justices Naor, Chayot and Hendel immediately suggested throwing out Judge Shapira’s judgment, calling it “problematic,” and requiring  my accuser Sarah Shapiro to pay back all the money she’d received as compensation.

They called it a compromise.

This is, as I said, the second time the Supreme Court overturned a ruling against me by the same judge. Details of the first time are here and here and here.

All the Supreme Court asked of me was that if my book ever goes into a new edition, I voluntarily agree to edit out the 29 words and sentence fragments which were the bone of contention between me and my accuser — a haredi  woman named Sarah Shapiro, the author of a  self-help book in which she describes in great detail her abusive behavior toward her children and her repeated attempts to control her violent temper. Ms. Shapiro claimed she’d invented such scintillating phrases as “I’m sorry” or “perfectly behaved little angels.” I claimed these were commonplace clichés, and I had a perfect right to use them.  But in the spirit of compromise, and in order to put an end to more than twenty years of harassment by her, including leaving messages on my answering machine before Yom Kippur that I would burn in Hell, I agreed. I guess I could write: “Gee, I regret that”, or “amazingly disciplined darlings” instead. As one of the Supreme Court Justices said: “It doesn’t seem like any of those phrases  are very important to Mrs. Ragen’s book.”

Got that right!

And for this, Sarah and all her haredi friends put me through five years of hell, defaming me all over the internet, newspapers, television and  radio. I hope that in this same spirit, Ms. Shapiro will now take out all the phrases in her book she admitted in court that she “borrowed” from other authors (see here for a comparison chart).

I’m glad she’s going to be digging into her pocket to pay this money back (I agreed that it go to charity).  It’s not the money I wanted back, but my good name. Thanks to God, the Israeli Supreme Court, my lawyers, and three wise justices, I’ve got that. I also have the honor of having a foolish and dangerous judgment overturned that would have jeopardized the ability of every writer in Israel to do research, consult sources, and express themselves freely without worrying about these debilitating nuisance suits which only enrich the greedy lawyers who encourage gullible clients to file frivolous lawsuits and tell them they have a real chance of winning. In the end, only the lawyers win, leaving people like Ms. Shapiro with nothing.

Two “coincidences”:

  • These lawsuits were all filed (by the same lawyer) shortly after I began a vocal campaign against the gender-segregated buses (קווי מהדרין) in which women are forced to sit in the back of the bus and I became one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Egged bus company and the Ministry of Transportation demanding that this demeaning practice be stopped.
  • The judge who ruled against me twice and whose decisions were both overturned by the Supreme Court was soon afterwards elected State Comptroller (מבקר המדינה) with the full support of all the ultra-Orthodox (חרדי) political parties. A smart career move?

On a personal note, to all those of you who stuck with me and supported me through these difficult years, I hug you and thank you. To all those “friends” who didn’t, I don’t have any hard feelings. I don’t have any feelings at all. Now I can go back to writing my next book without this heavy burden on my shoulders.

Wish me mazal tov!!

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12 comments on “Naomi Ragen Wins A Second Plagiarism Suit in the Supreme Court”

  1. Marc LAZAR

    Kol Hakavod ouMazal Tov, Naomi!
    I saw you at book – meeting at Paris on december 1st 2013. I did’ nt kneow your books at, after councils of friends I bought SOTAH . Reading it was a revelation for me. Your book is splendid, very well written, poetical describing very well some israelian realities : orthodox women discriminationbut also the problem for Haredi men(Moyshe) to enter Zahal and marrying an orthodox woman.
    But your book has also humour(Dina working for a very non casher jewish family) and a lot of tendress , and a happy end.



  2. Jeffrey R. Woolf

    This is wonderful news!!!! Mazal Tov not only on your vindication (which was inevitable), but upon the gracious way you’ve handled the entire horrid affair. Kol ha-Kavod, Naomi.

  3. Chaim Phillips

    This is great news, though hardly surprising! The whole thing made me furious! How a multi-title novelist over 30 years would have to steal innocuous phrases could never have made sense to anyone.
    It reminds me of that famous cartoon in which two people are in a tug-of-war over a cow, one pulling the head and the other pulling the tail. In the middle there is a lawyer happily milking the cow while all this is going on.
    It also reminds me of the time my father gave me Webster’s Dictionary and said, “Here are all of Shakespeare’s works: just rearrange the words.”
    So — on to the next!
    Your fan, Chaim Phillips in New York

  4. Rivka Krasnoff

    Mazal tov! So happy for you. Thank you so much for all you do. I hope that soon I will be as courageous as you. One day I hope that genuine Torah loving Jews will have more visibility than the repressive Haredi who trample on women’s rights. So sorry for the harassment that Sarah Shapiro and her friends put you through. Keep writing. Soon I will have read all your books

  5. Elisha b. Avuya

    As I have often noted, haredim are more concerned with what goes into their mouths than what comes out. I hope you go on exposing the corrupt venal underpinning of their oh so “holy” way of life for many years to come.
    עלי והצליחי עד מאה ועשרים.

  6. jean lipchin

    Mazel Tov! Thank G-d there is still Reason in the world. Your books have helped me through many a difficult time. Are there translations in Russian for any of them?

  7. Jodie Jensen

    What fabulous news. Your books are an inspiration to many. With this positive verdict, you can write without restraint, fearing some sort of reprisal. Mazel Tov! And as they say here in the Western USA, Good on ya!

  8. Abe Himelstein

    Dear Naomi,

    We are blessed to have you expressing your self with “Emes V’emunah” . After reading “Sisters Weiss, I have become a true fan and faithful reader.
    Kol tuv

    Abe Himelstein
    Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

  9. Chaiya Sora

    Mazel Tov Naomi! Such commonplace statements as you mentioned are in everyone’s vocabulary. I am shocked that it would even be an issue! What an ordeal you have been through! Thank you for your wonderful contribution to excellent Jewish literature. I have read every book you’ve written except one, which I can’t find in English and you are at the top of my list of favorite writers. All the best always!

  10. Cheryl Jacobs Lewin

    Dear Naomi – Many people do not have the stamina or resources to go through lawsuits. Lawsuits do not always go the way they should. Congratulations to you! Your books have traveled in my carry-ons on many trips. Your newest book, THE SISTERS WEISS, was downloaded to my Nook a few weeks ago and is for my upcoming very long airplane ride. And PS – every time I ride an Egged bus in Israel I think about you.
    Cheryl Jacobs Lewin, Chicago Chairperson, AFSI/Americans for a Safe Israel

  11. Mirel

    Yay!!! Finally! I feel bad that you had to go through years of needless anguish. I can’t understand what prompts people like that. Oh well, I’m happy that the nightmare is over. May you only have joy in the future and no more malicious malcontents in your life.


  12. isaac karpas

    congratulations…….when will fanatics stop progress for jewry

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