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Naomi Ragen book talk


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Because I'm a nerd :) , my idea of a good time is going to a book talk and signing from my favorite author.

Naomi Ragen writes good novels. More than that, though, she deals with a lot of the same stuff that we discuss here (religious vs. fundamentalism, treatment of women, covering up problems like abuse in the fundie world, holding onto faith despite problems in the religious world, not judging people by labels or externals), and her books - especially the earlier ones - had a profound effect on me. I actually named Girl 1 after my favorite character in The Sacrifice of Tamar.

It was interesting to hear from her directly about her journey. Her family was pretty secular, but her mother sent her to an Orthodox Jewish school after her father passed away, since they gave her a scholarship. She embraced Orthodox Judaism, and wanted to live an ultra-Orthodox life when she got married. She was initially shocked when she heard a neighbor confide in her about her abusive marriage, and later horrified when she discovered that another woman she knew killed herself and her daughter while being trapped in an abusive marriage. Her response was to write her first book, Jepte's Daughter. She naively hoped that her ultra-Orthodox world would appreciate that she was bringing to light such a serious issue. Instead, she was vilified. She made the men in her next two books more sympathetic. She was vilified even more. She saw that she'd be vilified for simply daring to write anything that wasn't completely superficial, even if all the characters were great, and gave up any expectation that she's ever be free from criticism. She's also fought long and hard to say that the insular, reactionary and anti-woman elements shouldn't be able to define her religion. Aside from writing novels, she's also a big voice in the religious feminist community, and played a major role in fighting against gender-segregated buses in Israel.

http://www.naomiragen.com/israel/i-am-n ... f-the-bus/

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I've never heard of her before. Her books sound interesting and I will be putting them on my to read list. Thanks for sharing!

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I'm mostly a lurker but I had to pipe up to say thanks for the recommendation. I've added her to my list for the future too.

Another author who deals with similar topics is Tova Mirvis, in The Ladies Auxillary. I loved it! It's written from the point of view of all the women, speaking as one collective voice, about a newcomer to the Memphis Orthodox community. I thought her take on religious life was pretty insightful, how the voice in ones head from the community can be so powerful.

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I LOVE both Ragen and Mirvis, and was highly disappointed when my mother gave away all my old books of theirs in a garage sale a few years back. Very jealous that you got to see her in person! Which character was it, by the way? You can give a description if you don't want to give away the name - I've read that book so many times. IMO, Tamar was the best one, though Jephte's Daughter has its moments and some of her later ones are quite interesting.

And the Ladies Auxiliary (Mirvis) is bitingly funny, as well as poignant. Now desperately trying to hunt down ebooks for both writers. Thanks for mentioning these books!

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I LOVE both Ragen and Mirvis, and was highly disappointed when my mother gave away all my old books of theirs in a garage sale a few years back. Very jealous that you got to see her in person! Which character was it, by the way? You can give a description if you don't want to give away the name - I've read that book so many times. IMO, Tamar was the best one, though Jephte's Daughter has its moments and some of her later ones are quite interesting.

And the Ladies Auxiliary (Mirvis) is bitingly funny, as well as poignant. Now desperately trying to hunt down ebooks for both writers. Thanks for mentioning these books!

Yehudit from The Sacrifice of Tamar. [Girl 1 had a different legal English name, so I'm not putting out too much identifying information.]

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Love this thread! She is one of my favorite authors too. You can definitely see how her background has influenced her writing. (I don't have a ton of time to respond today, but I had to tell you how excited I was to find someone else who loves her! Also Yehudis s my hebrew name too!)

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