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Rabbi Abraham Novitsky, 80, Led Northeast Shul

March 30, 2011
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Rabbi Abraham Novitsky

Rabbi Abraham Novitsky, who led a Northeast Philadelphia congregation for more than 40 years, died on March 10 near Monsey, N.Y. He was 80.

The funeral was held three days later at the Joseph Levine & Son Memorial Chapel, Inc. in Trevose.

Novitsky was born in Brooklyn and earned his rabbinic ordination at Karlin Stolin, a Chasidic yeshiva in Williamsburg, according to one of his sons, Mitchell Novitsky.

The rabbi moved to Philadelphia in the early 1950s and led the Aitz Chaim Synagogue Center, an Orthodox synagogue attended by many Holocaust survivors, until he retired in 2003 due to his wife's illness.

Mitchell Novitsky said his father would do practically anything for his congregants, even fighting parking tickets for them. He also said that at a time when many Orthodox rabbis took positions at non-Orthodox synagogues, his father wouldn't consider such a move.

"I would like to remember my father as somebody that never compromised on his beliefs, never sold his soul as a rabbi. When he believed in someone, he did things for congregants that no other rabbi would," said his son.

The building that housed Aitz Chaim later became an outreach institution and, for a short time, served as a boys' yeshiva.

It was ultimately sold to a church, something that "broke the man," said Mitchell Novitsky.

The rabbi was considered an authority on kashrut, and represented the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America in the Philadelphia area in administering kosher endorsement on products. He was also a member of the Philadelphia Rabbinical Council.

Novitsky was also a longtime hospital chaplain and had volunteered as a chaplain for the Philadelphia Police Department.

In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife, Florence Novitsky; another son, David Novitsky; daughters Deena Spindler and Gaila Roslyn; and several grandchildren.

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