Teaneck resident Dr. Michal Raucher will give a presentation on her new book, “Conceiving Agency: Reproductive Authority Among Haredi Women,” on Monday, December 7 at 7 p.m. during a free virtual program sponsored by Rutgers University’s Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life. Raucher is an assistant professor and undergraduate director in Rutgers’ Department of Jewish Studies.
Raucher, whose research fields are Israel studies, the anthropology of women in Judaism, religious ethics and women in religion, came to Rutgers in 2018 from the University of Cincinnati.
A native of Hamden, Connecticut, Raucher became interested in science and medicine while pursuing a joint undergraduate degree at Columbia University in religion and the Jewish Theological Seminary in Hebrew Bible. She went on to earn a master’s degree in bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where an interest in learning what people do and how they make medical decisions was sparked. That dovetailed into Raucher’s focus on Judaic subjects and led to an emphasis on how Jews make medical decisions, particularly in reproductive matters.
“I started studying how rabbis said ‘X’ and this was what was said in the Talmud 2,000 years ago and wondered what people sitting in a doctor’s office debating treatment were thinking,” said Raucher in a telephone interview with The Jewish Link.
With that idea in mind, she went to Northwestern University and earned a doctorate in religion and religious studies while having a secondary focus on anthropology. She spent 2009 to 2011 in Israel as a Fulbright fellow, furthering her research into the specifics of this topic.
Raucher then took a break from her research—working; marrying her husband, Yoni Shear; and having three children, now ages 8, 4 and 3.
“Now 10 years later finally a book,” she laughed, adding she is already working on another, which “picks up a thread started in the first book on religious authority and what it means for these women who have gotten semicha and what it means to develop religious authority within Orthodoxy.”
Raucher said she was attracted to Rutgers after interviewing with the Jewish studies faculty and being impressed by how passionate and driven they were by their own research. “It just seemed like the right place for me to thrive,” she said. “Being closer to family was also a nice draw.”
The program is being funded by the Sagner Family Foundation. A link will be emailed to those who want to attend the event. Register at https://rutgers.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_-BUic-94QJqSfB7vyYNDIA.