'Now I feel 100% Jewish' – The Nativ Program

Nov. 19, 2008

Source: Jerusalem Post


A small delegation of North American Jews attending the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities in Jerusalem recently met with a 22 year old Israel Air Force technician who was attending a special education program for soldiers and officers who are not Jewish according to Halacha (Orthodox Jewish law) – the Nativ Program.


The program, run by the IDF Education Corps and the Joint Institute for Jewish Studies, is supported by the Immigrant Absorption Ministry and the Jewish Agency for Israel. It commences with a seven or eleven-week intensive course in Judaism to prepare the participants for conversion.


After completing the course and being sent back to their bases, soldiers interested in proceeding with the conversion process are then invited to two two-week seminars, with a month off between them, before undergoing the official conversion by three rabbis of the IDF Chaplaincy.


The program provides a friendly atmosphere for the study of Judaism for thousands of soldiers who are interested in participating and considering the option of Orthodox recognized conversion.


Over 7,000 soldiers have completed the program, including 3,100 who have received conversion certificates since its inception seven years ago. About 85 percent of the soldiers attending the courses are not Jewish according to halacha; most of them are from the former Soviet Union. The remaining 15% need not convert but take the course to learn more about Judaism.


The IAF soldier who has recently completed the conversion process, told the GA members: "Now I feel 100% Jewish, It's not willpower, it is belief."

Updated: Nov. 26, 2008