FORMER NCSY LEADER YITZ NOVAK, OF LOS ANGELES, STARTS NEW POSITION AS DEPUTY TO THE OU CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Yitz Novak of Los Angeles is the new Deputy to the Chief Executive Officer of the Orthodox Union, Rabbi Steven Weil.
At first glance, one may think Yitz has worked at the OU for a good ten years. Yitz has found his niche quite easily at the OU, with his gregarious smile and proactive demeanor – not to mention that his blackberry is constantly in action, keeping pace with the excitement and responsibilities of the organization.
According to Yitz, “It’s really great to be working with Rabbi Weil on his team. He has an incredible mind, and an incredible imagination – and I strive to build up the goals he has set, to build the trust of the OU name and most importantly, to help bring great things to the great people who work here at the OU.”
As Rabbi Weil’s Deputy, Yitz is most excited to “help facilitate the making of a difference to many people in many places around the world.” Helping the executive vice president is no small feat. On a regular day, Yitz is responding to emails at 5:30 a.m. — the beginning of a constant stream of emails received each day. His responsibilities include engaging and working with the OU lay-leadership, developing relationships internally within each department, and acting as a go-to person on special projects.
Yitz comes to the OU after working at as a recruiter for the Mechina Program at Yeshiva University, but is no new face to the organization. He met Rabbi Weil upon Rabbi Weil’s arrival as rabbi at Congregation Beth Jacob in Beverly Hills. Yitz was active in the Los Angeles community before moving to New York. As a student at Yeshiva University High School of Los Angeles (YULA), he ran the teen minyan at Beth Jacob. He was also a teen leader of West Coast NCSY, serving as its Regional President.
As an undergraduate student at Yeshiva University, Yitz studied Economics with a minor in History. He served as vice president of SOY (Student Organization of Yeshiva) — which was responsible for creating Jewish-experience oriented programming on campus. Throughout the years, he also continued to be active in NCSY as an advisor for the New York Region.
With a creative mind and eager desire to help engage new teens become involved with their Jewish roots, Yitz helped to create and implement the Friday Night Lights (FNL) program. FNL sends a team of eight to ten volunteer advisors to bring the spirit of Shabbat to communities that need it most by creating a fun and relaxing atmosphere filled with candle lighting, traditional prayer services, festive meals, singing, dancing, story-telling, group discussions and recreation, thus engaging Jewish youth on many levels. Yitz also staffed JOLT (Jewish Overseas Leadership Training), an NCSY summer program which brings American high school students to Europe and Israel to connect with Jewish children and develop leadership skills.
Yitz has developed and maintained direct relationships with many OU staff members as a result from his years involved with NCSY.
As part of his rabbinical studies at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) at Yeshiva University, Yitz learned at the Gruss Israel Kollel of RIETS for two years. Additionally, he spent two years learning at Yeshiva Kerem B’Yavneh post-high school.
Yitz is married to Aviva Kravitz, and the father of Doni, age 2 and Ayelet, one month.