Malka Schaps Becomes First Female Haredi Dean at Israeli University

Bar Ilan appoints the U.S.-born convert from Christianity, a mathematician and best-selling author, as head of the Faculty of Exact Sciences.

Prof. Malka Schaps was appointed dean of Bar Ilan University's Faculty of Exact Sciences on Tuesday, becoming the first ultra-Orthodox woman to be appointed to this high academic post, the Haredi website Kikar Hashabat reported.

According to the report, Schaps is the only female Haredi professor in Israel. She is a mathematician at Bar Ilan and a best-selling author, writing under the nom de plume Rachel Pomerantz, mostly to a female, American, ultra-Orthodox audience.

Schaps lives in Bnei Brak with her husband David Schaps, who is a professor of classical studies at the university, and their children.

According to Kikar Hashabat, Schaps was born as Mary Elizabeth Kramer and converted to Judaism  before marrying her husband in 1968. The two made aliyah in 1972.

"We were impoverished grad students there, but we came here and got jobs as professors, so our standard of living actually went up," Schaps told Haaretz in 2003.

She wrote her doctorate on non-singular deformations of space curves at Harvard University.