Michal S. RaucherDec 17, 2020
Reproductive Authority Among Haredi Women
In Conceiving Agency: Reproductive Authority among Haredi Women (Indiana University Press, 2020), Michal Raucher explores the ways ultra-Orthodox Jewish women in Israel make decisions about their reproductive lives. Although they must contend with interference from doctors, rabbis, and the Israeli government, ultra-Orthodox women find space for―and insist on―autonomy from them when they make decisions regarding the use of contraceptives, prenatal testing, fetal ultrasounds, and other reproductive practices. Drawing on their experiences of pregnancy, knowledge of cultural norms of reproduction, and theological beliefs, Raucher shows that ultra-Orthodox women assert that they are in the best position to make decisions about reproduction.
Conceiving Agency puts forward a new view of ultra-Orthodox women acting in ways that challenge male authority and the structural hierarchies of their conservative religious tradition. Raucher asserts that ultra-Orthodox women's reproductive agency is a demonstration of women's commitment to ultra-Orthodox life and culture as well as an indication of how they define religious ethics.
Michal Raucher is Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University. Her research lies at the intersection of Israel studies, the anthropology of women in Judaism, and religious authority.
Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020). Visit him online at ZalmanNewfield.com.