Hagar Fine works for Target, but it was quite a road to get there. The Israeli-born, Edina-High-School-grad-turned-Israeli-soldier gets into why she made Aliyah, why she came home, and a reminder that she knows about what goes on at Target stores long before you do.
What do you do at Target?
I’m a project manager for the Safe and Secure Operations Team. So what that actually means is essentially managing anything that has to do with physical security on any project in our stores. If we have a company coming into our space – for example, CVS owns the pharmacies – so I worked with them for probably about a year or more to make sure everything from the materials of the walls to if we have an active shooter, how we respond, and all the strategy in between.
So anything that goes into a store, you’re going to know months or years before the public?
When it’s a physical change. We also play the role of preparing the teams for any kind of emergency that happens in our space. Target’s motto is to let the people in the area own the business, so we give them the tools to react and recover.
What’s your background that got you here?
It all started with me being a history nerd at Edina High School. When everyone else was focused on sports or whatever, my focus was largely on history and Israel. I went on a trip to Israel though the Jewish Agency in Israel called Chetz V’Keshet. It’s a month long. Within that month where you’re travelling all of Israel you have one week of Gadna, the fake Army training. And the little diva from Edina decided she was joining the Israeli military. No one believed me at first. Finally, the day came, and two weeks after my 18th birthday I was making Aliyah. By Dec. 14,2004, I was enlisted.
Was it the training course that made you want to do it?
It was a mix of things. I was born in Israel and moved here when I was 2. But my dad’s family has lived in Israel for more than 10 generations. As we were touring around Israel, I would call my grandma and tell her what I was seeing and she would say ‘Oh yeah, your uncle was in this battle here,’ or ‘Your grandpa’s brother did this with the weapons here.’ As time went on, I just kept thinking my family had invested so much in fighting to have to this land, and that everyone who lives in Israel has to serve. So why wouldn’t I? I need Israel just as much as any other person that lives in Israel. It was my duty to go and serve.
What kind of response did you get from friends?
They asked me if my dad lost his business, because why else would you join the military if not to pay for college. At least in Edina. Then it was ‘Did you lose your mind.’ It was shocking for some but my closest Jewish friends instantly knew. It wasn’t common at the time; there was a couple hundred lone soldiers. Now there are several thousand.
Was it more than you expected?
I’ve said this to other people who have said they want to go and serve, but if you aren’t 120 percent sure that you want to do it, don’t. There’s a lot of tough days, and lot of days wondering ‘Why am I here?’ So you need to lean back on that ideology. The first three months I think I cried everyday. I said something kind of mean to my mom: ‘I told her if you really loved me, you wouldn’t have let me do this.’ But sure enough another two months went by and I ended up calling my parents and thanking them. The rest of my service was the most amazing thing every.
What did you get to do there?
I got to do intel PR for the chief of staff. So not what goes to the news, but the opposite. Israel works with 42 militaries at all times in Israel, where they have military attaches or the UN. We got to do strategy building with them. If anything happened, like a terrorist attack, to make sure they know about it before it hits the news so they can prepare whatever their countries need to do. Also to inform Israel’s attaches in other countries.
I was in until 2007. I did the very typical Israeli thing which was work to save up, and then travel. I found out on my trip in Africa that I got accepted to school in Israel and majored counterterrorism and strategy at the IDC in Herzliya. I was in school for a program in social leadership and one of the women working that program signed a contract to work for the (European Union) and signed me on for the delegation to Tel Aviv.
I was here visiting for the High Holidays in 2013, and a girlfriend of mine who worked at my school in Israel for a little while works at Target too, and she said she had a few people she wanted me to meet. My contract was coming up with the EU, and they liked me at my coffee statuses and here I am.
That’s a long and winding road to get here.
Yeah. It’s weird.
What makes it weird?
I don’t feel like anything unique. It’s normal until I think about it. How did I end up in all these different things? But I’m really committed to what I do. I’m really passionate about it. I’m luckier than a lot of people in that I get to wake up and say ‘I like what I do, and I care about it, and I want to make it better.’
Are there a lot of threats to Target stores that the public never sees? How much do you get to see?
We get to see everything. Target’s really good at working with our communities and making sure we’re a safe place. We’re not law enforcement by any means. It’s about making sure we have a good partnership with the leaders of the communities so they know they can lean back on Target. And also that we represent every person in every community as equally as possible.
Did you think you were going to come back here?
No. I thought I was going to go more into government security, like Ministry of Defense in Israel. It was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.
Favorite Jewish holiday?
Rosh Hashanah. Because I like to be, hopefully, put in the “Book of Life.” But it’s more of a time where you have all the traditions and the long meal, but it’s more focused on family time. At least at our house. And it’s my favorite food.
Anything my mom makes. But I like on Rosh Hashanah you can start with the sweet stuff like apples and honey and move on the savory. My mom’s brisket. It’s the best.Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!