During the 1990s post-Soviet aliyah, about a million immigrants came to Israel from the former Soviet Union. About one third, or 300,000, had Jewish family members but were not recognized as Jews under Jewish law. The process of conversion to Judaism in Israel is overseen by the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate, which requires strict adherents to Jewish law by prospective converts, while most Jewish Israelis are not observant. The Nativ program's first course was inaugurated in 2001 to deal with this problem. It is the only recognized conversion option that is not run by the Chief Rabbinate; instead, it is run by rabbis in the Military Rabbinate.
According to a 2019 survey, 71% of Israelis approve of the program, while 52% want to make conversion easier. Despite its popularity, the program has suffered repeated budget crises because the government has not allocated money for it. By 2019, more than 10,000 soldiers had converted via the program.
- "Poll: Majority of Israeli Jews want easier, more welcoming conversion process". Times of Israel. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
- Newman, Marissa (31 May 2018). "Army conversion track to close Friday over budget shortfall". Times of Israel. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
- "Budget dispute halts celebrated IDF conversion course". Times of Israel. Retrieved 9 June 2019.