Mixing Personal and Business In Israel

I’ve been told by my American friends and family that one keeps ones personal life outside from ones business, meaning one simply doesn’t mention whats happening in ones personal life while “conducting business.”. It always seemed a bit cold to me, since what happens with ones family does in fact affect our “business…”


It was August  2012, when I was invited to Jerusalem to present my work to a company that was looking for a new website. I arrived late morning and was shown the board room where I started to set up my computer and was looking for the monitor cord to hook it up to the projector, when I heard in the hallway someone mention about an attack on the Egyptian border. Well my son was on that border in a combat unit, meaning he might be involved.


I stopped with the preparations and went straight to the internet to learn about the attack. At this point people starting entering the board room, the CEO, marketing people, business development, it was to be a full room. I looked up at them and mentioned that I heard there was an attack on the border, the CEO confirmed it. I told them that my son was there on the border and if they wouldn’t mind I would like to take a few minutes to find out where exactly the attack occurred. I had spent many many hours on that very border, knew where my sons patrol area was so I just need a bit more info on where exactly the attack took place.


The marketing woman ask me which unit and if I knew the exact area, while I was giving her the information, I noticed that a map of the border area appeared on the wall, which made it even easier to show. The business development guy was on the phone asking someone for some details. Its seems that half of the room were making phone calls asking their friends, army buddies etc what they knew. It turns out the CEO was an F16 pilot, the marketing woman was active in the reserves in the south, the Business Development guy was from the commandos…..In about 10 minutes It was clear that the attack was not in my sons immediate area and that larger forces were already moving in the area (these guys had good connections). This meant that my sons unit would probably not be directly involved unless there were additional attacks in a different area (always a possibility).


At any rate, once we cleared up that, and I was a bit more relaxed,  I returned to connecting my computer to the projector and to start my presentation. Israel is a personal place and it was obvious to everyone in that room that before I started my presentation I needed to know about my son  (just as they would, in a similar situation) and everyone did what they could to help. It was a good feeling that here in Israel somethings are simply more important than business….and I got the job.


Meeting My Daughter in the IDF

It was 2009, my daughter, had started her army service and I knew the beginning was going to be difficult. She was raised as a princess (I plead guilty) and was to get the shock of her life. Though we taken camping trips before, canoed in Northern Canada, spent time in the mountains of Northern Italy, the conditions of the army were a whole different world. Adding to that being yelled at, and punished by someone who is only a few years older than yourself was going to be a difficult period.


During this period, I also found myself in the reserves. I decided to take a day and visit my daughter, not on “visitors day” or during some ceremony but in the middle of the basic training. Given that I was one of the older guys in my unit, I knew there wouldn’t  be a problem with taking the day. One of the officers secured for me a pass to her base (one of the larger ones in the south that I had spent many many many days on).


I really wasn’t worried about not being able to see her, or by having one of her officers telling me “I can’t, ” this is the IDF, a “family” oriented army.  I arrived after about an hour driving,  parked my car and entered the base. Though the base was large, I knew where her tents were and within a short walk of 10 minutes I arrived. Nobody was there, I looked at my watch and noticed that it was 12:30, which meant they were probably having lunch. I decided to do this the “respectful way.” I could have just walked straight to the cafeteria and found her there, but I decided to go to her officer and “ask permission.”


Her officer I presumed was in the little “room” next to the tents. The door was closed so I knocked. A young officer opened the door. I asked her if she was Karen’s commander. My American accent made it pretty clear that I was probably her dad. She answered yes. I told her that I took a few hours off and I came to see her. She looked at me and I could see that she wasn’t really sure what to do, so I decided to help her. I mentioned that I just came from training (that was obvious given my uniform and weapon) and that I managed to get away for a few hours. She mentioned that, Karen is in the middle of basic training and as I must know discipline is very important here. At this point I couldn’t help but smile. The girl in front of me may be an officer in the army and I may be just a sergeant in the reserves, but she is also a 20 year old girl, and I”m old enough to be her dad. I gave her the “dad” look, the one that is slightly condescending that says, ” I know more than you.” I said that its better that as an officer you know that I ‘ll be seeing my daughter rather than not knowing of my visit. She really didn’t have a choice. I promised it would be short, just a few minutes. At that point she understood she really didn’t have much of a choice, she relaxed (maybe she thought of her own dad visiting her), gave me the cute smile of a 20 year old and told me which cafeteria she was in.


I arrive at the cafeteria and enter the main lobby area where I saw two female soldiers (sergeant and a corporal). It was clear that they were her commanders as the way their ranks were nicely sewed on their sleeves and not stuck on with  a bobby pin (see karens pict above with her own stripes held on with a bobby pin- classic IDF.


Again I really don’t need their permission, but I did think I would give them the chance to decide how best to do this. So I approached one of them, confirmed that they were responsible for Karen’s unit and mentioned I had already spoken to their lieutenant about seeing my daughter.


They spoke a few minutes among themselves obviously trying to decide how best to handle this situation. They asked that I wait and they will bring her out. The cafeteria is pretty big with many soldiers all over the place. I could see the “girls” at the far end and that they had called Karen out. I could also see the anxiety on her face. No one likes being called out in basic, it is never anything good.


When she exits the eating hall and sees me…..(see the movie below). Moments us Dads live for.