“Typically extraordinary” is the way Gil Nativ describes himself. He is a Sabra whose upbringing was typical for Israelis his age: school, youth movement (Scouts), military service (Paratroopers). His family moved to Haifa in 1958 when his father, Moshe Nativ, was invited to teach in the Leo Baeck School. Together with his father Gil searched for a long time for a path between secular and religious life.
In the Six Day War (1967) Gil fought in the paratrooper brigade in Jerusalem. After the war he studied Social Sciences at the University Institute of Haifa, which was the forerunner of Haifa University. In 1969 he founded and led the youth group of Congregation Or Chadash (Progressive). In 1972 he left for North America to serve as a teacher and youth leader in a Jewish community in Upstate New York.
When he was a high school student, his sister introduced him to her best friend, Zivah. They were married in 1969 and their children are Inbal (1971), Dror (1977) and Noga (1979). Gil was Zivah’s teacher of biblical cantellation and she quickly took over his role of teaching bar-mitzvah boys. At the same time Zivah was his teacher of Israeli folk dancing. They have been dancing together twice a week for the past 32 years.
With the outbreak of the Yom Kippur war, Gil returned to Israel to serve in the IDF as a reserve soldier. This period was a turning point in his life that led him to decide to study for the Rabbinate. After three years of study at Hebrew Union College and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in the summer of 1977, Gil and his family joined the first group which settled in the Arava and established Kibbutz Yahel. He held the position of religious spiritual guide. After two years of this pioneering he returned to Haifa in order to serve as the first Rabbi of Ohel Avraham congregation and to teach Oral Law (Talmud) at the Leo Baeck Educational Center. During the next six years he convinced many high school students to choose this subject as their major elective in the matriculation exams. During these years he also served as the convener of the religious court (Beit Din) for conversions of the Israeli Council of Progressive Rabbis (MaRaM) and in January 1983 published in the literary journal “Shdemot” a paper concerning conversion to Judaism under the title “To Seek Refuge under His Wings”.
In 1985 the Nativ family moved to Cincinnati and Gil began his doctorate studies in Rabbinic Literature at Hebrew Union College while serving as the Rabbi of the Conservative congregation Bnei Tzedek. In 1990, after completing his studies, he returned to Haifa as the Coordinator of Jewish studies at the Leo Baeck High School. After two years he left this position and was appointed Rabbi of the Moriah Masorti congregation in Haifa. At the same time he joined the Rabbinical Assembly and was elected as its Israeli president (1996-1998). He also served for five years as a visiting lecturer in Talmud at Haifa University.
In 2003 while on Sabbatical he served as a lecturer in Talmud at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, and in 2004 filled a similar position at the Leo Baeck College in London. In August 2004 he returned to Israel and since then has been the Rabbi of two Masorti congregations in the south: Eshel Avraham and Magen Avraham.(Omer). In 2006 he served as a lecturer at the Israeli Rabbinate Program at Hebrew Union College. His articles in recent years deal with historical-conceptual analysis of Talmudic stories.
When he is not studying a page of Talmud or folk dancing, Gil wields the poet’s pen. To date he has published two booklets of Hebrew verse: “Standing” (1993), “Woe to you if you call” and “Drashirim” (September 2000). Zivah and Gil have five grandchildren: Yarden (15), Ayala (12), Gaia (7), Zoe (5) and Leo-Ori (1)