Rabbi Kathy Novick

Kathy’s first memory of Jewish worship was that of her father’s strong hands holding her over his head to see the cantor sound the shofar. Although she was raised in a mostly secular home, everyone was expected to attend weekly Shabbat services and Holy Day services. Her parents were founding members of Temple Beth Sholom of Flushing, N.Y. Kathy was confirmed and married there by Rabbi Hershel Levin, z”l, of blessed memory. She and her husband raised their two children, Robert and Alice, in the Reform movement at Temple Beth Elohim in Old Bethpage, New York. Kathy takes pride in the fact that they have found their own paths to Judaism and to God.

Kathy’s education began with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Queens College, CUNY, after which she attended Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons School of Physical Therapy and obtained her physical therapy credentials. Eighteen years later she returned to earn a Masters of Arts in Exercise Physiology/Cardiac Rehabilitation from Adelphi University.

Despite many successful and rewarding years as a physical therapist treating people’s physical needs, Kathy found that something was missing. Her first thought was to find a way to connect her medical knowledge with her love of Judaism. She thought she might accomplish this by earning a Masters in Bioethics. This, as Dr. Ora Horn Prouser once alluded to, was not the Master’s plan. After attending a Union of Reform Judaism Kallah summer program at Brandeis University singing in the choir and attending classes she found that she needed to serve God in another way. Becoming a rabbi and serving the spiritual needs of her people was the answer.

Some people in her life questioned the age-appropriateness of her decision. Didn’t people her age retire? Why did she need another career? It was not an easy task balancing the urgency in her soul with the patience needed for learning.

Going to AJR was a most amazing journey for Kathy. She found it to be an honor to study beside students who came from all backgrounds and careers. Her teachers and advisors were inspiring. She felt privileged to study Torah and sacred texts that were all but forbidden to the women of her family for generations. Kathy is grateful to the rabbis, cantors and teachers in her life. Rabbi Bonita E Taylor, her first teacher at AJR, enlightened Kathy in the skills of compassionate listening. Rabbi Isaac Mann’s infinite patience kept Kathy going. Rabbi Shohama Wiener taught her how to use meditation to connect to the Holy One on another plane. Rabbi Joel Levinson encouraged her and believed in her ability to succeed. Dr. Ora Horn Prouser has been a constant source of spiritual nourishment and understanding; her Biblical exegesis is timeless as she shares her love of Torah. Cantors Rena Shapiro and Lisa Klinger-Kantor filled Kathy’s studies with joy and appreciation for the musical sounds of Judaism. May God multiply all their teachings for the generations of clergy yet to come to AJR.

Although the path to Kathy’s rabbinate was not always smooth, she was able to stop to appreciate the myriad of incredible moments along the way. This second “adolescence” gave her a chance to explore her Jewish soul. Being willing to submit to the uncertainties and vulnerabilities of new learning rewarded Kathy with the opportunity to expand her own Jewish identity.

Kathy was grateful for the opportunity to have served the families of Mastic Beach Hebrew Center for five years as their rabbi and teacher. It was her honor to lead services, chant Torah, teach the B’nai Mitzvah students, counsel families and bring joyful music to their worship. She was particularly proud of the efforts of students with learning disabilities to work toward their Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

Today Kathy enjoys teaching the students of Combined Hebrew High School who struggle valiantly with the difficult ethical issues facing modern teenagers. They are willing to step outside of their comfort zones to explore their spiritual and moral selves.

Kathy is thankful to her family, friends, teachers and chevrah who supported her along the path to this holy ground. She wishes them all the continued blessings of the Holy One.