This time last week, I was working as an analyst at a leading investment bank in London. Today, I am in Israel, with my unit in the north. I’m preparing to meet the soldiers who were there when the deputy commander was killed and who helped with the evacuation.
I had no idea that I would be doing this now. The weekend before last, everything was the same as usual. I was living the life of every junior banker in London, in a house in the North West of the city (where the Jewish community live), and working through the week on all the deals and projects we have planned.
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However, when I woke up on Saturday and saw what was happening in Gaza, it was immediately clear to me that this was going to escalate. Even before I called my boss at the bank, I managed to book the last seat on a plane back to Israel on Sunday. There was no other option for me. People asked me why I was going back and said it wasn’t necessary because I was in London, but it never occurred to me not to fight. You will see masses of other Israeli’s coming back from abroad to serve the country too. The mood on the flight was grim, but it was mostly families returning from holidays – I don’t think people understood how much things had changed.
I’ve worked in financial services for several years, but before going into banking I spent several years in the Israel Defense Force (IDF). There are overlaps between working in banking and being in the army. Both banks and the army are big, hierarchical organizations with room to think out of the box and to be entrepreneurial. Both have structure and discipline and require understanding of large systems. Both need you to be hands-on. And, in both cases you’re working for something larger than yourself – albeit for different reasons. Defending your country after people were brutally killed gives you much more purpose, of course.
I’m leaving now to meet my unit. When I got back to Israel on Sunday, I picked up my equipment from home (a vest with magazines, my helmet, my uniform) and went to meet my unit and receive my gun. I know the people in my unit well; we were together in 2020 when there was tension on the border with Beirut after the port explosion. They are my brothers.
Went I went into banking, I always made it clear that I would fight if anything serious happened in Israel. The support I have had from friends and from the bank leadership has been amazing. They’ve said to take as much time off as necessary and to come back safe and well. Am I being paid while I’m away? I haven’t even thought to find out.
Efron Geiger is a pseudonym
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