Second writer accuses Ragen of plagiarism

The writer says Ragen used material from a journal she had published in her best-selling novel, Sotah.

ragen 88 (photo credit: )
ragen 88
(photo credit: )
Another author has accused Naomi Ragen of plagiarizing from a book she wrote, attorney Gilead Corinaldi, who represents a writer who is suing Ragen for $1 million on the same grounds, told the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday. The author, Sarah Shapiro, wrote to Corinaldi after hearing of the lawsuit, and charged that Ragen had used material from a journal she had published about raising children in the haredi community in her best-selling novel, Sotah. Ragen is being sued by Michal Tal, author of The Lion and the Cross. Tal says the best-selling American-born Israeli author took key elements from her novel for Ragen's book, The Ghost of Hannah Mendes. Regarding the new allegations by Shapiro, Ragen told The Jerusalem Post, "That woman has been hounding me for 13 years because two pages of my book resembled two pages in hers." Ragen said that in 1994, Shapiro wrote to Crown Publishers, the publisher of Sotah, accusing her of plagiarism. "I showed them the pages under dispute," Ragen continued. "They reviewed them and said there was no plagiarism. That's the story." According to Shapiro, she published her book, Growing up with My Children: A Jewish Mother's Diary, in 1990. She told Corinaldi it was an unusual book as it chronicled the personal story of a haredi mother's difficulties with raising children. A rabbi who read the book told her he had given a copy to Ragen. Soon afterward, Ragen called Shapiro and asked to meet her. Several years later, Shapiro continued, friends began telling her they had read Sotah and recognized scenes in it that had appeared in her book. Eventually, Shapiro found a copy of Ragen's book and started reading. "To my shock," she wrote Corinaldi, "I started finding words that I recognized. There - in the mouths of two fictional characters, a haredi husband and wife - was the conversation I had had in the early 1980s with a certain Jerusalem rabbi." Shapiro said she also found another scene in Ragen's book that was identical with her own. She said she called Ragen and told her what she had discovered. Initially, Ragen allegedly denied that she had taken anything from Shapiro's book. Finally, she gave in. "'Alright,' she told me," wrote Shapiro. "'I'll say I was inspired by your story.'" According to Shapiro, Crown Publishers said Ragen had denied any connection between the two books and added that Judaism was a compendium of many ideas shared throughout history by the Jewish people. Shapiro added that for several years after the showdown, she wrote or left messages for Ragen, during the Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, saying she had not forgiven her. Ragen told the Post that Shapiro had had seven years in which to sue her, but did not do so. Corinaldi has filed two suits in Jerusalem District Court against Ragen in the Tal case. One is a lawsuit for damages, demanding $1m. In another action, he asked the court to ban the sale and distribution of Ragen's book, The Ghost of Hanna Mendes, until it ruled on the allegations. The court began hearings on the second suit on Wednesday and obtained the plaintiff's consent to lift the temporary ban.