David Novak holds the J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair of Jewish Studies as Professor of the Study of Religion and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto since 1997. He is a member of University College and the Joint Centre for Bioethics. From 1997 to 2002 he also was Director of the Jewish Studies Programme there. From 1989 to 1997 he was the Edgar M. Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies at the University of Virginia. Previously he taught at Oklahoma City University, Old Dominion University, the New School for Social Research, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and Baruch College of the City University of New York. From 1966 to 1969 he was Jewish Chaplain to St. Elizabeth's Hospital, National Institute of Mental Health, in Washington, D.C. From 1966 to 1989 he served as a pulpit rabbi in several communities in the United States.
David Novak was born in Chicago in 1941. He received his A.B. from the University of Chicago in 1961, his M.H.L. (Master of Hebrew Literature) in 1964 and his rabbinical diploma in 1966 from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Georgetown University in 1971.
David Novak is a founder, vice-president, and coordinator of the Jewish Law Panel of the Union for Traditional Judaism, and is a faculty member of the Institute of Traditional Judaism in Teaneck, New Jersey. He serves as secretary-treasurer of the Institute on Religion and Public Life in New York City and is on the editorial board of its journal First Things . He is a Fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research and the Academy for Jewish Philosophy, and a member of the Board of Consulting Scholars of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. In 1992-93 he was a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. In 1995 he was Distinguished Visiting Professor of Religion and Business Ethics at Drew University. In 1996 he delivered the Lancaster/Yarnton Lectures at Oxford University and at Lancaster University. He has lectured throughout North America, Europe, Israel, and South Africa.
David Novak is the author of eleven books, the latest being Covenantal Rights: A Study in Jewish Political Theory (Princeton University Press, 2000), which won the award of the American Academy of Religion for "best book in constructive religious thought in 2000." He has edited four books, and is the author of over 200 articles in scholarly and intellectual journals.
Since 1963 David Novak has been married to Melva Ziman. The Novaks have two grown children and four grandchildren. David and Melva Novak now live in Toronto.