Rachel Freier, nation's first Hasidic female judge, spoke at Penn State

October 30, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Judge Rachel "Ruchie" Freier, the first Hasidic woman to hold public office in the United States, spoke at Penn State’s University Park campus at 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2, in Memorial Lounge of the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center. A luncheon will accompany her talk.

Freier also joined more than 70 Jewish students at a traditional Jewish Shabbat meal on Friday evening at the Chabad House, hosted by Rabbi Nosson and Sarah Meretsky, co-directors of Chabad at Penn State.

Freier made headlines in 2016 when she was elected as a judge for the Kings County 5th Judicial District in New York, making her the first Hasidic woman to be a judge and the first Hasidic woman to be an elected office-holder of any kind in the U.S.

She’s also a licensed paramedic who founded “Ezras Nashim,” the first all-female volunteer ambulance corps, which was documented in the 2018 award-winning film “93Queen.” In addition, Freier has founded two charities: B'Derech, which helps at-risk youth in Orthodox Jewish communities, and Chasdei Devorah, which raises money for Jewish families in need.

Freier shared her inspirational story of how she began as a legal secretary to support her family and worked her way up, breaking barriers along the way, to become a paralegal, a legal intern for then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, a lawyer and, eventually, a judge. She also gave her unique insight about the tensions between her religious identity and her community service, and whether Jewish law and ethics can play a role in her secular judgments.

“Judge Ruchie Freier has gained national recognition as an Orthodox Jewish woman who has broken one glass ceiling after another,” said Sarah Meretsky. “We’re excited to host her for Shabbat so students can hear her unique story and gain inspiration from it.”

Chabad at Penn State organized Freier’s visit, with the support of the Penn State Student Affairs Center for Spiritual & Ethical Development, Penn State Law, the Rock Ethics Institute, the Gender Equity Center, and the Jewish Studies Department.

Last Updated November 07, 2018