Rachel Freier made history in Brooklyn last week when she became the first Hasidic Jewish woman to serve in public office. Freier, 51, was officially sworn into office on Thursday as a civil court judge for Brooklyn’s 5th judicial district seat. It was announced in November that Freier had won 74 percent of the vote.
In addition to serving in public office, Freier is also a wife, a mother and a lawyer. She is a community activist who founded the first all-female volunteer ambulance service in Brooklyn. The EMT service is called Ezras Nashim, which is Hebrew for ‘helping women.’ Freier also volunteers for Flatlands Ambulance Corp and eventually became a paramedic herself in 2015. She says of the experience:
“It was an eye-opener for me because I was taking my experience from home and going out to the Canarsie community into people’s homes and catching them when they’re in a crisis, helping them and giving them care.”
Freier points out that it was not always easy to get to where she wanted to be in life. She did not become a lawyer until she was 40. Freier is a graduate of Touro College and Brooklyn Law School and became a real estate attorney. She also worked as a legal secretary and a paralegal, supporting her husband’s Talmudic studies. Most of the Hasidic community is supportive of her new position, but she does admit some criticize her for becoming a judge. Freier, who is a mother of six children, said:
“I love my role as a woman. We don’t have to lose our identity as women to become professionals.”
As a civil court judge, Freier will take on a variety of lower court cases. Civil cases can range from small claims to civil motions as well as commercial landlord-tenant cases. Freier’s 10-year term officially begins on Jan. 3.
Featured Image via Twitter/BklynEagle