Naomi Ragen Drops Plagiarism Appeal, Claims Victory


Sarah Shapiro’s plagiarism suit against Naomi Ragen reached its denouement in the Israeli Supreme Court last week when Ms. Ragen withdrew her appeal of the judgment entered by the Jerusalem District Court in Shapiro’s favor. Withdrawal of the appeal left intact the District Court’s injunction barring Ragen from reprinting her novel Sotah in any language without removing material appropriated from Shapiro’s memoir Growing with My Children.

In return, Shapiro agreed to donate 97,000 shekels – her portion of the damages award against Ragen, after payment of attorney’s fees – to two charity organizations,Yad Eliezer and Yad Sarah.

As is her wont, Ragen claimed vindication by the three-judge panel, despite the fact that she remained without the 233,000 shekels awarded by the District Court to Shapiro and her attorneys, and is still subject to an injunction against reprinting Sotah. If that constitutes victory in Ragen’s view, one wonders what would be defeat.

In any event, Ms. Ragen will be back in court soon defending against another plagiarism action, this one brought by Mrs. Sudy Rosengarten. Rosengarten claims that Ragen interpolated her short story “A Match Made in Heaven” (which was published in the anthology Our Lives I edited by Shapiro) as chapter 24 of her novel The Rape of Tamar. Rather than comment on an action sub judice, we will leave it to readers to compare.

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shaul shapira
1 year 10 months ago

I just checked wikipedia which ‘confirms’ Ragen’s victory.

“On 6 November 2013, the Supreme Court vindicated Ragen by overturning the District Court’s decision in the Shapiro case,[13] and ordered Shapiro to return the money she had received (except for the money paid to her lawyer), which Ragen agreed would be donated to charity. Ragen also agreed to remove some 25 words and phrases from future editions of Sotah.[14]”

Any wiki editors out there who care to get involved?

P.S. The hebrew version of her wiki page is much less sure of itself:

בהמשך נפסק שרגן תשלם לשפירו פיצויים והוצאות משפט בסכום כולל של 233 אלף ש”ח.‏[7] כמו כן נאסר על רגן להדפיס מהדורה חדשה של הספר “ואל אישך תשוקתך” אלא רק לאחר שיושמטו ממנו משפטים וביטויים שלגביהם נפסק בפסק הדין שהם מפרים את זכויות היוצרים של שפירו. רגן ערערה לבית המשפט העליון על החלטת בית המשפט המחוזי.‏[8] בנובמבר 2013 הגיעו רגן ושפירו לפשרה, שקיבלה תוקף של פסק דין בבית המשפט העליון, לפיה רגן תשמיט ממהדורות עתידיות של הספר 29 משפטים שלגביהם קבע בית המשפט המחוזי כי הייתה הפרת זכויות יוצרים. מנגד, שפירו תעביר לצדקה (לעמותת “יד שרה” או “יד אליעזר”) את 97 אלף ש”ח שקיבלה כפיצוי מרגן‏[9]‏.

lawrence kaplan
1 year 10 months ago

S. I cannot agree with you. It was Naomi Ragen who claimed that the plagiarism charges against her were launched by Haredim on account of her criticisms of Haredi society in her novels. So it was she who first linked the plagiarism issue with her attitude to Haredim.

1 year 10 months ago

>So she is betraying “her” community in her novels for no tachlis.

No tachlis? She believes what she writes, period. You agree with one genre of her writing but not the other, but they are opinions from the same person.

As for the plagiarism itself, not only do I believe it was blatant, but I found her arrogance in denying it appalling. I think, however, to tie it in with her attitude toward Chareidim is a mistake. One thing has nothing to do with the other, and one would hope that if the shoe were on the other foot, Cross Currents would take up the cudgel for intellectual property rights per se rather than against the political, social or religious opinions of the one accused or guilty of plagiarism.

Toby Katz
1 year 10 months ago

Thank you for including the information about Sudy Rosengarten.

I know people who believe that Naomi Ragen was falsely accused of plagiarism just because charedim don’t like her. Nothing will convince them that Ragen is a plagiarist — except a side-by-side chapter of Ragen’s plagiarized chapter with the chapter in Sarah Shapiro’s book *Growing with My Children* that Ragen stole. Is there anywhere on-line we can see this? Or can you at least tell us which chapter in Shapiro’s book it was and which chapter in Ragen’s book?

It was many years ago that Sarah Shapiro first discovered her words had been plagiarized. Naomi Ragen never expected that there would be any overlap between readers of her novels and readers of charedi-leaning books published by Targum. She thought she could get away with it, but it turned out there were such readers and they immediately saw that Ragen had stolen from other people’s books. (There were more victims than just these two writers, Sarah Shapiro and Sudy Rosengarten).

When, many years ago, Sarah Shapiro asked my father, R’ Nachman Bulman zt’l, what to do about Ragen’s plagiarism, he advised her to do nothing. He told her that when you wrestle with a mud-slinger you get covered in mud, which is what ultimately happened to Sarah. Naomi Ragen is ruthless and deeply dishonest, and the secular media totally covered for her, believed her and acted as her echo chamber. Sarah only got involved in her case when others sued Ragen for plagiarism and were themselves slandered in the media. It was then that she felt morally obliged to go public.

My mother Rebetzen Shaindel Bulman A”H was a close friend of Sarah Shapiro’s lehavdil bein chaim lechaim and was outraged by the ugly way Naomi Ragen treated Sarah. As if plagiarizing — and doing so with intent to twist and distort Shapiro’s positive message — were not bad enough, Ragen proceeded to vilify Shapiro and blacken her reputation, accusing her of making false claims of plagiarism! And the media adore Ragen, so she was certainly in a position to do Sarah Shapiro a great deal of damage. Devious, Orwellian, Kafaesque, one hardly knows what adjective to use for Ragen’s machinations.

The reason the media adore Ragen is that she paints Orthodox Judaism, especially the charedi community, in the blackest light, while pretending to be “one of us” — a voice speaking truth from within the community. What she has attempted to do to Sarah Shapiro’s reputation is nothing compared to what she has succeeded in doing to our reputation. The whole world now “knows” that we women who live in charedi or charedi-leaning communities are routinely beaten, raped by our husbands, oppressed, imprisoned in our own homes, forced into loveless marriages, forced into pregnancy, deliberately kept ignorant and isolated, and brutalized by misogynistic rabbis and rabbinical courts.

The strangest thing about Naomi Ragen is that when she writes non-fiction, when she writes about Israel and defends Israel in the media, she is eloquent, passionate and effective. If you put all her vile fiction on one side and all her pro-Israel non-fiction columns on another side, you would never believe that the same person could have written these and those. But note well, her novels do get respectful reviews in the NYT and do get assigned in Feminism 101 college classes, but her pro-Israel analytical columns do not get so much as the breath of a mention in the secular media or academia. So she is betraying “her” community in her novels for no tachlis. The respect she garners does not translate into respect for Israel.

1 year 10 months ago

Sorry, Rabbi Menken, you misunderstood my comment……I DISAGREE VENOMENTLY that this is NOT a private affair and yes, should be covered. Dishonesty is never a private affair especially when the author (Ragan) is prominent throughout the Jewish world.

“whether she plagiarized parts of her book is a private affair between her and the plaintiffs”
DISAGREE VENOMENTLY, WHY is dishonesty a private affair, when the author is prominent throughout the Jewish world?