NEW YORK — It’s an inspirational story about a mother, grandmother, and founder of a nonprofit. Now, the Brooklyn woman just added New York State Supreme Court judge to her resume.
Acting Judge Rachel Freier is believed to be the first Hasidic woman to hold the role, and it’s not the first time she has broken barriers.
Freier, who friends call “Ruchie,” showed CBS2 the judge’s robe she wears with honor. It sits in the same office as her Jewish prayer book.
“I try to pray three times a day,” Freier said.
Freier says it’s prayer, support from her family and community, including dozens of rabbis, and hard work that first earned her the honor of being elected as a Civil Court judge in 2016. Now, she has been chosen by her supervisors to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Religious leaders believe she is the first Hasidic woman to hold the role.
“My story is replete with naysayers every step of the way, whether it was going to college, then law school, opening up a law practice, running for the judgeship,” Freier said. “Why shouldn’t I try? That God created me as a woman in a Hasidic community with these ambitions and with these dreams, it means that I could make it happen.”
Freier was appointed acting Supreme Court judge in December, but this summer she’ll still have to run to be elected for the position in order to get the word “acting” removed from her title.
“All the values that I learned growing up about judging everybody, giving someone benefit of the doubt, being patient with people, kindness, compassion, all those values is what I bring with me to the court,” Freier said.
A mother of six, Freier started college at age 30, became an attorney at 40, and first became a judge at 50. Now 57, even in her new role, she is still involved in the all-volunteer women’s ambulance corps she founded, known as Ezras Nashim.
“The first biggest secret is I live around the corner from my mother, so she was always there to help me. Second thing is my mother always taught us that time is like money. It’s not how much you have, it’s how you spend it,” Freier said.
And last but not least, she never compromises her values.
Freier said another key that makes her time work for her is on work nights she only cooks dinners that take 20 minutes max to make.