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The Devil in Jerusalem

by Naomi Ragen

The Devil in Jerusalem by Naomi Ragen X
The Devil in Jerusalem by Naomi Ragen
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  • Published Oct 2015
    320 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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There are currently 27 member reviews
for The Devil in Jerusalem
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  • Bobbie D. (Boca Raton, FL)
    Good Wife and Mother
    Naomi Ragen has written a book that will terrify you. Daniella Goodman has a new life in Israel. To be a devout Jew wife and mother, and live in the holy land is supposed to be very special. Her life is turned upside down. Evil is everywhere. Everyone should read this book and find out that "all that glitters is not gold". Our weaknesses become exposed and can be taken advantage of under the guise of being closer to God. This book is fiction but based on events that actually happened. It was a bit wordy at times but you can't put it down!
  • Patty S. (Towson, MD)
    Too frightening for words
    I was inspired to request this book because of its Jewish themes. As the story unfolded, it became clear to me that this is one that, unfortunately, needs to be told. It's not just a Jewish story. It is a universal story of cults and the way they prey on people who are searching for something outside of themselves. This is not a book for the faint of heart.

    At first, I found the back and forth more confusing than it needed to be, but as I got deeper into it, it made more sense. I'm not sure I would have stuck with it if I hadn't have agreed to review it. That would have been a shame. The acknowledgments at the end were an important piece to this horrifying story.

    Ragen writes believable characters and I cared about them - most of them, anyway. I would have liked to have learned more about how she got to the point where she would allow such atrocities to happen to the children she loved so much.
  • Cecilia Z. (Montclair, NJ)
    Devil in Jeusalem
    I am a fan of Naomi Ragen and have read many of her books. Her themes are always thought-provoking. This book is no exception. However, it is disturbing to read and almost beyond understanding. The thought that a mother who clearly loves her children could fall so deeply under someone's influence, enough to let them be harmed, is very difficult to comprehend. Ragen does a good job of developing the characters, especially the mother, and it is a fascinating, albeit shocking, story.
  • Julia A. (New York, NY)
    Terrifying yet Fascinating
    The story is both terrifying and fascinating. In Naomi Ragen's own words, she "wishes to explore through fiction the wider implications of how people seeking spiritual guidance can naively wind up in horrific cults led by psychopaths, particularly cults that abuse children."

    The horrific physical abuse of children by a charismatic yet psychopathic Kabbalah-studies leader is at the core of this novel, which is based on true events. The work of dedicated detectives and a "child interviewer" psychologist to get to the bottom of what happened makes for an absorbing story. That parents could be so captivated by the leader, and that the other children in the family could be so terrified, contributes to the reader's emotional response to the novel. While we keep paying rapt attention, we can't help being appalled, and we hope for justice for the two little boys and for repentance on the part of those who perpetrated and those who were complicit. Ultimately, only one of those hopes is satisfied.

    Days after finishing "The Devil in Jerusalem" I find myself still thinking about it and analyzing my reactions. There are many true and novelistic accounts written about religious cults, but this one may become a classic.
  • Mary P. (Lisbon Falls, ME)
    Suspenseful but dark
    This is well written book and Naomi Ragen has developed complex, intricate characters. The problem is that the subject matter is dark and unrelentingly bleak.

    The characters are in a battle with evil influences that come in the form of supposed holy people and you are presented with the realization that regardless of high minded intentions there is a fine line between a righteous life and surrender to the dark side.

    There are parts of the book that were very hard to read and I am ambivalent about my feelings.

    This is a well paced book but the subject matter is difficult and complicated. The characters are not especially likable but I don't think that Ragen intended for readers to like them. I think she wanted to challenge our minds as she told the story and this book will make you think of many different things.
  • Shelley C. (Eastport, NY)
    Not For the Faint of Heart
    I live in New York and am used to seeing Hassidic Jews. I've always looked at their bizarre clothing and wondered why they continue to dress in this way, no matter the temperature or century. The story told in, "The Devil In Jerusalem", gives me further pause to wonder; are all of these people steeped in a traditional religion, or are they, too, involved in a cult. Also, how does one tell a religious leader from a charlatan? And, how do we know that our rabbi, or pastor, or priest is someone we can trust?

    Both rabbis in this story were sick and yet they found people who were eager to believe in them and follow them unquestioningly. And that is truly frightening.

    While organized religion can help many people cope with these troubling times, this book is a cautionary tale for those who are seeking some sort of an anchor. All religions should come with a label - Buyer Beware!

    This was not an easy book to read. Although interesting and well written, this is not a book I would recommend to everyone. The graphic description of abuse visited upon the children was really too much, and knowing that this story is based on a factual account makes it even worse.
  • Colleen L. (Casco, ME)
    The Devil In Jersusaleum
    The author Naomi Ragen, an American who has lived in Jerusalem for 40 years, writes authoritatively about the city. It is evident she understands the language and the culture. I found the background information for the story very interesting and informative, having never traveled to Israel myself.

    The 'Devil in Jerusalem' by Naomi Ragen is inspired on a real court case that occurred in Jerusalem...the Elior Chen Trial. "The experiences of the children in this book was based on 300 pages of actual court testimony. Naomi Ragen" It is evident in reading this book that Ragen conducted significant research across a wide array of resources including cult rituals, kabbalists and mystical ancient texts. All of this information was new and enlightening to me.

    I found the story of Daniella and Shlomie interesting as well. I did have a hard time understanding the character of Daniella, though; hence the rating of a '4' vs a '5'. The loving mother who could so easily turn into such an evil villain and then revert back just didn't work for me. Granted, I have limited insight into cults and their followings so maybe I just didn't empathize with the character enough. The story started a bit slow but moved quickly towards the end. The child abuse described in the book was horrific. I have no doubt that the author used real examples and probably could have added more. I believe part of the author's goal for writing this book was to alert readers of the seriousness of cults that exist today. Most of us readers are completely unaware of the scope of this tragedy.

    All in all, I enjoyed the book and found it informative and very interesting. I plan to read other books by Ragen as she has now captured my interest.

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