New York – Viewers of Megyn Kelly’s Today show had a chance to share a day in the very busy life of Judge Ruchie Freier as the popular NBC talk show profiled the trailblazing Chasidic female figure as part of its week-long “She’s Got Faith” series.
The six minute-long segment aired Wednesday morning on Today, with Freier joining Kelly in the studio to discuss how religion has been the guiding force in her life.
Freier said that she was contacted by the Today show and asked to do an appearance shortly after being profiled by The New York Times as a Chasidic superwoman.
After seeking permission and gaining approvals from the court, Freier agreed to join Kelly on the show, a major leap for someone who doesn’t actually watch television.
“I wasn’t even sure exactly what this was and what it meant, but my kids were helpful and said to me, ‘It’s a great idea. You have to do it,’” Freier told VIN News.
Freier’s appearance on the show included a video clip, which she scheduled for Erev Shabbos Chanukah, so that the audience would have an opportunity to see both her work in criminal court and her home life.
The film crew got to experience Jewish family life on one of the busiest Fridays of the year, enjoying Freier’s home made potato kugel and learning all about setting Shabbos clocks, making cholent in a crockpot and putting up a blech.
The timing couldn’t have been better for Freier.
“I wanted them to see my husband lighting the menorah and to see me lighting the Shabbos candles,” explained Freier. “I am always asked about feminism and as much as I believe in women’s abilities and empowerment, we each have our own roles and we all work together. I am not being discriminated against just because I don’t light Chanukah candles.”
Freier took the film crew on a tour of her home, showing them her Pesach kitchen and the room where the family has its succah.
“I tried giving them a quick overview and they were so respectful,” said Freier. “I explained to them about covering my hair and why Chasidish men dress the way they do, how chasidus started in the 18th century and if you look in the history books you will see that at that time, this was how the aristocracy dressed. They wore white socks and knicker and fur hats. We took that same mode of dress and it has been frozen in timesince then.”
Freier turned down Today’s offer to have a stylist do her hair this morning at NBC before the show aired, bringing her mother, a shaitel macher, with her to the studio.
“It was really very cute,” said Freier, who credited Today staffers for being respectful of her request to have a woman, not a man, touching up her makeup.. “The hairdresser in the studio was taking tips from my mother on how to style wigs.”
Also accompanying Freier to the studio were her sister and two of her children.
Knowing that Jewish men will be watching her Today appearance, Freier expressed her concerns about modesty and asked if it would be possible for the person interviewing her to dress conservatively. She was met on the set by Kelly, attiredin a gold high necked, long sleeved sweater and knee length navy blue skirt.
Freier was extremely appreciative noting, “They accommodated my request with so much respect.”
After the video clip completed, Freier chatted briefly on camera with Kelly about how she balances her responsibilities to her family and her job, emphasizing that her religious observance is not a burden but rather the touchstone that steers her through life on a daily basis.
She noted that her journey to the bench was one that was two decades long.
“It is important for young people to know that this didn’t happen overnight,” said Freier. “I was thirty, with three kids and it took me six years to finish college, but that how I was able to still cook, still bake, still have my kids and still go to school. If you really believe that Hashem runs the world then anything can happen.”
Having defied the odds and won an election that many thought would best her, Freier hopes to be able to continue presenting the Orthodox and Chasidic worlds in a positive light.
“If Hashem gave me the platform, then I want to use it to be mikdesh shem shomayim,” said Freier. “Every day I wake up and say ‘I am doing this l’shem shomayim. I want people to see how beautiful our life is and I want our children to see just how lucky we are to be living this life.”