She graduated from Brooklyn College and also earned a master's degree in public policy. She worked as a social science researcher when her three children were young. In the late 1950s, she was part of in sit-ins and lie-ins to integrate Westchester, Pennsylvania's swimming pools.  Later she moved to Westchester County, New York, where she helped organize Jewish groups to attend the 1963 March on Washington. She ran unsuccessfully for the New York state Legislature in 1970 and moved to Washington to work as chief aide for Bella Abzug. In 1977, she helped to coordinate the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year. In 1978, she worked as a guest professor at Stanford. During much of the 1980s she taught at U C Berkeley's graduate school of public policy.
Novick was a founding member of OHALAH: Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal. She was ordained as a Jewish Renewal rabbi in 1987. Novick was a founder of the Ruach Ha Aretz retreat group and two renewal congregations, Beit Shekhinah in Berkeley, California (1980s) and Shabbos in Carmel, California (1990s.) 
In 2012 she was the chief organizer of a retreat focusing on American women's 40 years as rabbis, called "Forty Years on the Bimah" and held October 28–30 at the Mount Madonna Center in Watsonville, California. According to Novick, this was the first interdenominational gathering of female rabbis.
She is the author of the book "On the Wings of Shekhinah" Rediscovering Judaism's Divine Feminine (Quest Books 2008), as well as a book on the history of women at Democratic political conventions. She has also recorded a CD of guided meditations with Desert Wind, and created the performance piece The Peaceful Macabee which is about groundbreaking Jewish women involved in spirituality. As of 2013 she serves as president of the educational non-profit Spirit of the Earth.
A collection of materials that document Rabbi Novick's work since her ordination in 1987 and her contributions to the Jewish Renewal movement are held at the Post-Holocaust American Judaism Archive in the University of Colorado Boulder.
- "Her career spans women's rights in DC to Renewal rabbi in Carmel". J. The Jewish News of Northern California. February 5, 2015.
- "Historic retreat marks women's 40 years as rabbis | j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California". J. The Jewish News of Northern California. 2012-11-08. Retrieved 2014-02-21.
- "Rabbi Leah Novick, founding member of OHALAH, to be honored at Boulder (August 2012)". Ohalah. 2013-01-17. Retrieved 2014-02-21.
- "Quest Books". Quest Books. Retrieved 2014-02-21.
- "An International Transdenominational Association of Rabbis". Ohalah. Retrieved 2014-02-21.
- "Healing Sanctuary France". International Association of Metaphysicians. Retrieved 2014-02-21.
- "Brief Biographies | Forty Years on the Bimah". Womenonthebimah.org. Archived from the original on 2014-02-03. Retrieved 2014-02-21.
- "Post-Holocaust American Judaism and the Reb Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi Collection". Program in Jewish Studies, University of Colorado Boulder. Retrieved 2014-02-21.