Mary Elizabeth Kramer was born in Ohio and grew up attending church and Christian Sunday school. By high school, she was drawn to atheism and secularism, but ultimately found no solace in those philosophies either. While in university majoring in mathematics, she found herself exploring various religions. Studying in Germany one semester, she had an inexplicable yearning to attend a Passover seder, and there met an Australian rabbi with whom she continued learning, eventually undergoing a proper Orthodox Jewish conversion (and taking the name Malka). Back in college, she met her future husband – David Schaps – and both went on to earn PhDs at Harvard. The new couple then moved to Israel to teach, had two kids and two foster children. Malka Schaps joined Bar-Ilan University’s Department of Exact Sciences, researching advanced quantum spin representations, in addition to founding and running a financial math program. Meanwhile, Schaps has written a handful of popular, best-selling novels under the pen name “Rachel Pomerantz”. Despite being deeply involved in the scientific community, her faith has only strengthened, and she has said, “I always point out that the study of mathematics shares something in common with Judaism. They both seek to discern a greater order of things and the objective truth.” Recently, she was elected to be Dean of the Department of Exact Sciences at Bar-Ilan, making her the first Orthodox woman in the world to hold such a post. Schaps lives with her family in Bnei Brak.
Words of the Week
Why was the Torah given in the desert? For if it were given in the Land of Israel, the residents of the Land of Israel would say, “It is ours”; and if it were given in some other place, the residents of that place would say, “It is ours.” Therefore it was given in the wilderness, so that anyone who wishes to acquire it may acquire it.
– Mechilta D’Rashbi