Brooklyn activist becomes 1st female Hasidic judge in US history

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A.J. Ross reports from Brooklyn's Borough Hall

A woman in Brooklyn made history Thursday, becoming the first female Hasidic judge in US history after voters elected her to the bench in September.

And despite all the people who said she couldn't do it and all the unforeseen challenges along the way, Rachel Freier said it's her faith that has allowed her to persevere.

"For many years, I thought that it was mutually exclusive being devoutly Hasidic and being a professional," she said. "And I was determined to find a way to blend both."

Still, the civil court judge says her work is just beginning.

"I have this drive in me, that whatever there is out there, if there's a higher level, I want to achieve it," she said.

What began as a passion for helping others at a very young age has now evolved into pledge to uphold the law.

"For me, it's my faith that gave me balance," she said. "I didn't have to struggle with my faith. My faith is what gave me the tools that I need to get through all the challenges."

A graduated of Brooklyn Law School and native of Borough Park, the activist has privately practiced law for more than a decade.

"I never thought it would really happen," she said. "There were just so many hurdles and so many challenges, but that didn't stop me from trying."

The mother of six credits her family's unwavering support over the years, as she set her eyes on one goal after another.

"I had a tremendous amount of support from my family," she said. "My husband was amazing. He was my biggest campaigner. He went around with those petition forms in his pocket every day."

While her term won't officially begin until after the New Year, Freier says she's anxious to tackle problems affecting women and children. And she hopes her journey might inspire other Hasidic women to dream big.

"There are more women out there that are capable of doing many things," she said. "And I want to be a trailblazer for them, and show them that not only can we achieve it, we can do it without comprising our standards."

Freier's term will extend through 2027.

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