Rachel Freier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Rachel Freier

Judge Rachel Freier - Photo Jordan Rathkopf.jpg
Born (1965-04-02) April 2, 1965 (age 53)
Brooklyn, New York
NationalityUnited States
EducationBais Yaakov, Touro College
Brooklyn Law School
OrganizationEzras Nashim EMT Group
Known forFirst Hasidic Woman Judge
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)David Freier

Rachel "Ruchie" Freier (born April 2, 1965)[1] is a New York City Criminal Court judge.

In 2016, she campaigned and was elected as a Civil Court judge for the Kings County 5th judicial district in New York State, thereby becoming the first Hasidic Jewish woman to be elected as a civil court judge in New York State,[2][3][4] and the first Hasidic woman[5] to hold public office[6] in United States history.[7] Although she ran for the Civil Court, after her election she was assigned to serve on the Criminal Court in the Kings County 5th judicial district.[8] She previously worked as a real estate attorney and community activist, and served as a volunteer court lawyer in the New York City Family Court.[9]

Early life and education[edit]

Freier was born in Borough Park, Brooklyn,[10][8] the eldest of five children in a Hasidic Jewish family.[11] While attending the Bais Yaakov high school in Borough Park, she took a course in legal stenography,[12] and she graduated from high school in 1982.[13] At age 19 she married David Freier, with whom she has three sons and three daughters.[11]

Freier worked first as a legal secretary, and, in 1994, as a paralegal at law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher,[11] in order to support her husband in kollel.[14] Her husband went on to complete an accounting degree at Touro College,[11] and in 1996,[15] she also decided to pursue a college education. She began studying law at age 30 after realizing she was working for lawyers younger than her.[16]

She enrolled at Touro College as well,[17] where she became director of the women's pre-law society, and graduated six years later with a bachelor of science degree in political science.[11][12][14]

She then entered Brooklyn Law School,[18][19] completing her degree in four years, graduating in June 2005.[11][14] She passed the New York State Bar in 2006.[8]


Rachel Freier meeting with President Bill Clinton & Hillary Clinton

Freier passed the New York State Bar exam in 2006. She is also licensed to practice law in New Jersey and the District of Columbia.[12]

Freier and her husband shared an office in Borough Park, where she practiced commercial and residential estate law, and he did commercial financing.[4][14]

Freier also had a law office in Monroe, New York, where she does business with Hasidic residents of nearby Kiryas Joel.[20] She advocated for the Satmar[21] Hasidic Community by speaking to residents of Orange, Sullivan, and Rockland counties, to help correct misconceptions people might have about Hasidic life in Kiryas Joel and to better understand the Hasidic neighbors in their midst.[22]

Freier began her political career in 2001 as an intern in the Manhattan office of then-U.S. Senator from New York Hillary Clinton.[23] She also interned for other elected officials.[24]

Civil court judge[edit]

Borough President Eric Adams giving Rachel Freier an Award at her Inauguration in Brooklyn Borough Hall

In April 2016, Freier announced her candidacy for Civil Court Judge, running for the spot on the bench vacated by Judge Noach Dear.[25]

In the September 2016 Democratic primary election for Civil Court Judge of the Kings County 5th judicial district, Freier garnered 4,730 votes (40.9 percent), followed by Jill Epstein with 3,993 votes (34.5 percent), and Morton Avigdor with 2,835 votes (24.5 percent).[26] She entered the November general election, with Avigdor as a Conservative Party challenger, and received 68,088 votes (74.4 percent), to his 23,393 votes (25.6 percent).[27]

Freier was endorsed in the three-way race during the elections by The Jewish Press[28] and the New York Daily News.[29]

On December 22, 2016, she was sworn in at Brooklyn Borough Hall.[30] She delivered a speech that included Hebrew and Yiddish phrases and concepts which she translated into English.[31] Her inauguration ceremony was carried live on WABC-TV [7] and News 12.[32]

On hand for her swearing-in was Hasidic singer Lipa Schmeltzer, who sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" with bits of Yiddish[33] and "God Bless America" in full Yiddish version.[34][35]

Subsequent to her swearing-in, Freier was assigned to serve on the New York City Criminal Court.[8]

In December 2017 Megyn Kelly welcomed Freier to The Today Show[36] as the woman The New York Times has called “the Hasidic superwoman of night court”; she was featured in the series “She’s Got Faith,” marking her one-year anniversary on the bench.[37]

Election history
Location Date Party Votes Results
Brooklyn Civil Court
District 5
Democratic 4,730
√ Rachel Freier 40.9%
Jill Epstein 34.5%
Morton Avigdor 24.5%
Brooklyn Civil Court
District 5
General 68,088
√ Rachel Freier (D) 74.4%
Morton Avigdor (R) 25.6%

Volunteer activities[edit]

In 2005, Freier established Chasdei Devorah Inc.[38] a non-profit charity organization to help poor Jewish families in memory of a young friend.[39]

In 2008,[14] Freier was one of the founders of B'Derech, a GED program for Haredi youth at-risk.[15][40] The organization also helps troubled teens with therapy and hypnosis.[41] The program launched in partnership with the New York branch of Bramson ORT College adding a Men's Division[42] and Women’s Division.[43]

In 2010, Freier advocated to save Breslov Yeshiva in Williamsburg, in spite of opposition from some who harassed the students and maligned the Rabbi, Yoeli Roth.[44] Freier received threats for defending the yeshiva, but she won the court case.[44]

In 2011, she became involved with Ezras Nashim, an all-female Orthodox Jewish volunteer EMT ambulance service established with the goal of preserving women's modesty in emergency medical situations, especially childbirth.[14] The group was formed after its request to add a female corps of EMT volunteers to the all-male Hatzalah organization, the long-standing Orthodox Jewish EMT service in New York City, was rejected, Hatzalah was the subject of controversy as articles in the New York Post [45] and JEMS Magazine criticize the organization for its discriminatory practice of not allowing women to join. The group of Orthodox women cited the need for modesty and sensitivity to the needs of fellow Orthodox women.[46][47] Freier is working on a project to buy an ambulance for the organization.[48] Freier initially provided advocacy services for the group, and took over the directorship of the organization in 2012.[14] Ezras Nashim was licensed by the New York State Department of Health in February 2013,[46] though the volunteer corps respond in their own private vehicles as Ezras Nashim is still awaiting a license to operate a full ambulance service.[8]


Freier is a licensed EMT, and has completed advanced training to qualify as a New York State paramedic.[15][40][49] She has served on Borough Park's Community Board 12, and performed pro bono legal services for the New York City Family Court.[40]

Freier appeared in a documentary about Ezras Nashim entitled “93QUEEN” which was directed by Filmmaker Paula Eiselt.[50] The film made its world premiere on May 1, 2018 at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.[51][52] The film is set to appear on PBS's POV.[53]

Honors and awards[edit]

Freier honored at the New York City Council Chambers with a Proclamation Award for being elected as the first Hasidic woman to public office in New York City, September 7, 2017

In September 2017, Freier was honored at the New York City Hall in the Council Chambers with a "Proclamation Award" presented by the Speaker & Council-members of the Jewish Caucus for her achievement of becoming the First Hasidic Woman elected to Public Office in New York City.[54][55]

In 2017, Freier was chosen by The Jerusalem Post, an Israeli newspaper, as #40 of the "50 Most Influential Jews" in the world.[56][57] In 2016 she was named one of the "15 Most Influential Jews" in the world by Makor Rishon, another Israeli newspaper.[58][59]

Also in 2016, Freier's judgeship was selected by Kings County Politics as one of the "Top 10 Stories" among political events in New York City that year.[60] She was also listed by City & State magazine as one of the "Winners" among politicians of New York State that year,[61] and was a recipient of Jew in the City's "Orthodox Jewish All Stars Award".[62][63][64]

Personal life[edit]

She married David Freier, a Bobover Hasid, with whom she has three sons and three daughters.[8] They reside in Borough Park.[8]


  1. ^ "Rachel Freier twitter".
  2. ^ "First Hasidic Woman Elected As Brooklyn Civil Court Judge". CBS Local. 14 September 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  3. ^ "In First, Hasidic Woman Elected to Serve as Civil Court Judge in NY State". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 15 September 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b Dolsten, Josefin (15 September 2016). "Trailblazing Hasidic Woman Elected as Brooklyn Judge". The Forward. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  5. ^ Roseanne, Colletti (January 3, 2017). "Brooklyn Attorney Becomes 1st Female Hasidic Judge in New York". WNBC. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  6. ^ Carrega, Christina (December 26, 2016). "Brooklyn judge becomes first Hasidic Jewish woman in U.S. public office". New York Daily News. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  7. ^ a b Ross, A.J. (22 December 2016). "NYC Activist Becomes 1st Female Hasidic Judge in US History". WABC-TV. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Otterman, Sharon (November 17, 2017). "Judge Ruchie the Hasidic Superwoman of Night Court". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  9. ^ "Its the American Dream". AP. 2 January 2017. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  10. ^ "First Hasidic Woman Elected To Public Office To Be Sworn In As Brooklyn Judge". 1010 WINS. 22 December 2016.
  11. ^ a b c d e f McKenna, Chris (6 May 2007). "Living in Two Worlds: Rachel Freier, Mother, Wife and Lawyer, Is Also Hasidic Jew". Times Herald-Record. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  12. ^ a b c Arbesfeld, Atara (14 July 2016). "'Go For Your Dreams And Don't Compromise Your Religious Standards': Rachel Freier Is Not Your Typical Civil Court Candidate". The Jewish Press. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  13. ^ "An Interview With The First Hasidic Woman Elected To Public Office In The U.S." Gothamist. 7 January 2017. Archived from the original on 6 January 2017.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Brawarsky, Sandee (18 June 2012). "'We Are Reclaiming Our Job'". The Jewish Week. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  15. ^ a b c "A Woman Of Many Hats: An Interview With Rachel "Ruchie" Freier, The First Female Chassidic Civil Court Judge". Bensonhurst Bean. 29 September 2016. Archived from the original on 1 November 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  16. ^ Kempinski, Yoni (8 January 2017). "Arutz Sheva interviews first female hasidic judge". Arutz Sheva.
  17. ^ "Lander College of Arts & Sciences's Rachel Freier went from being a legal secretary to an attorney and director of an all-female EMT corps". Touro College. 21 August 2015. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  18. ^ "Rachel Freier '05 Makes History in Election for State Civil Court Seat". Brooklyn Law School. 30 September 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  19. ^ "Rachel Freier '05 Takes Office as Nation's First Hasidic Woman as Civil Court Judge". Brooklyn Law School. 3 January 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  20. ^ McKenna, Chris (16 July 2010). "My View: Hasidim must overcome adversity from within". Times Herald-Record. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  21. ^ Sullivan, John (15 February 2008). "chief rabbi of Satmar Hasidim decreed new laws to cut down cost of weddings among Hasidic Jews". Times Herald-Record. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  22. ^ Sullivan, John (12 February 2008). "Bridging a cultural divide". Times Herald-Record. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  23. ^ "Rachel "Ruchie" Freier — Freier for Civil Court". Freierforcivilcourt.com. Archived from the original on 2017-01-01. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  24. ^ Heller, Andy (13 September 2016). "Ruchie interned for elected officials, including NYS Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton". Matzav.com. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  25. ^ Eller, Sandy (12 April 2016). "Female Chasidic Lawyer Announces Plans To Run For Open Brooklyn Civil Court Judge Position". Vosizneias. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  26. ^ "New York Primary Results". WNYC. 29 September 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  27. ^ "New York Results". New York Times. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  28. ^ Editorial, Board (10 August 2016). "Rachel Freier For Civil Court Judge In Brooklyn". The Jewish Press. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  29. ^ Editorial, Board (September 12, 2016). "The choice in this three-way race is Rachel Freier". New York Daily News. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  30. ^ Abruzzese, Rob (December 27, 2016). "Brooklyn swears in nation's first female Hasidic judge". Brooklyn Eagle. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  31. ^ Chi'en, Arthue (23 December 2016). "NY Civil Court Judge is 1st Hasidic Woman on Bench". Fox 5 News. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  32. ^ Batiste, Lenneia (23 December 2016). "First Hasidic Woman Inaugurated as Judge". News 12. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  33. ^ "First Haredi female judge elected in NYC". Ynetnews. 22 December 2016. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  34. ^ Eller, Sandy (22 December 2016). "Wearing Chasidic Heritage Proudly, Ruchie Freier Inducted As Civil Court Judge". Vosizneias. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  35. ^ Ghert-Zand, Renee (22 December 2016). "First Hasidic woman judge sworn in with Yiddish song". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  36. ^ Kelly, Megyn (20 December 2017). "Megyn Kelly welcomes the 'Hasidic superwoman of night court'". Today Show.
  37. ^ Dow, Jay (3 January 2018). "Hasidic grandmother breaks barriers on Brooklyn judicial bench and serves as role model". PIX11.
  38. ^ "Chasdei Devorah Inc".
  39. ^ "Americas first Hasidic woman judge". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 27 October 2017. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  40. ^ a b c Harari, Renee (13 October 2016). "Rebel With A Cause: Chasidic Mom Shatters Stereotypes". The Jewish Week. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  41. ^ Eller (13 September 2009). "B'Derech Organization That Helps Troubled Teens Tries Method Of Hypnosis". Vosizneias. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  42. ^ Brenner, Yermi (20 August 2013). "Brooklyn GED Program Seeks To Help Put Haredi Men On the Path to Employment". The Forward. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  43. ^ Eller, Sandy (6 December 2011). "B'Derech GED Program Flourishing and Adding Women's Division". Vosizneias. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  44. ^ a b Eller, Sandy (4 January 2012). "On Feminism and Fanaticism: A Female Charedi Attorney's Perspective". Vosizneias. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  45. ^ Fenton, Reuven (2011-09-26). "Jewish 'siren' ladies". New York Post. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  46. ^ a b Nussbaum Cohen, Debra (March 11, 2013). "Ultra-Orthodox Female EMT group Approved in New York State". Haaretz. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  47. ^ Weichselbaum, Simone (February 27, 2012). "Jewish Women in Brooklyn Launch EMT Service". New York Daily News. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  48. ^ Graham, Ruth (4 January 2017). "first Hasidic woman in Public Office Started Work This Week". Slate Magazine.
  49. ^ "EMTs and Paramedics". New York Health Careers. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  50. ^ Eiselt, Paula (25 May 2016). "Paula Eiselt on Birthing Her Hasidic EMS Documentary 93QUEEN at the IFP Documentary Lab". Filmmaker Magazine.
  51. ^ Selb, Charlotte (23 March 2018). "93QUEEN". Hot Docs.
  52. ^ Fraiman, Michael (30 April 2018). "Documentary about female Hasidic trailblazers gets world premiere in Canada". Canadian Jewish News.
  53. ^ Berger, Laura (23 March 2018). "Hasidic Women Form NYC's First All-Female Volunteer Ambulance Corps in "93Queen" Trailer". women and hollywood.
  54. ^ "Civil Court Judge Rachel honored in the City Council Chambers". Kings County Politics. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  55. ^ "Media Advisory NYC Council to Honor Judge Freier". Constant Contact. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  56. ^ "# 40 Rachel Freier and Nechama Spiegel - Personifying shifts in the haredi world". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  57. ^ "50 Most Influential Jews in the world Year 2017". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  58. ^ "15 Most Influential Jews in the world". NRG. Retrieved 24 December 2016.
  59. ^ "J Factor: 15 Most Influential Jews in the world". NRG. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  60. ^ "Kings County Politics Top 10 Stories Of 2016". Kings County Politics. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  61. ^ "WINNERS & LOSERS 12/30/16". City & State. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  62. ^ "Announcing Jew in the City's 5th Annual Orthodox Jewish All Stars". Jew in the City. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  63. ^ "Orthodox Jewish All Star, Ruchie Freier, First Hasidic Female Judge". Jew in the City. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  64. ^ "Jew In The City Proves That You Can Have Your Cake And Eat It Too, As Long As It's Kosher". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 7 November 2017.

External links[edit]