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    11.20.17 Trailblazer Rachel Freier ’05 Featured in The New York Times
    Rachel Freier ’05

    A year after becoming the first female Hasidic elected official in the country, Rachel “Ruchie” Freier ’05 is the subject of an in-depth profile in The New York Times that highlights her work as a judge, a public servant, and something of an intermediary between the Hasidic community and the New York City court system.

    The story follows Freier through a shift at criminal court in Downtown Brooklyn, weaving in details about her unlikely and impressive career, which began when she became a legal secretary to help support her family while her husband was in school. She went on to become a real estate lawyer and then to join the race to become a civil judge in Brooklyn last year, despite some pushback from her community. Now, in addition to serving as a judge and running a local all-woman EMS organization, she continues to run her household in Borough Park, Brooklyn.

    Although she won a seat in Civil Court, she ended up in criminal court and has been assigned to preside over night court, where she decides whether turnstile-jumpers and people accused of various other low- and high-level crimes should await their fates at Rikers Island or at home. She has embraced the alternatives to bail movement, according to the Times, and thinks carefully about whether and how to set bail for the people who appear before her. This is especially true with young people—Freier has long used her public position to advocate for youth, especially those suffering from addiction.

    Freier tells the Times that she sees no contradiction between her faith and her work.

    “I’m the same. I dress the same, I still cook and I still bake and I do whatever I always did. Whatever we consider important traditional Hasidic values, I didn’t let go,” she said. “I wanted to succeed, but I wanted to do it from within my community.”

    Freier was honored for her achievements by the Law School at an event in March.

    Judge Ruchie, the Hasidic Superwoman of Night Court, The New York Times, Nov. 17, 2017