A farewell ceremony was held Sunday for Gil Sheffer, who is concluding his duties as the head of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's staff after five years in office. The Prime Minister and his wife Sarah, past and present ministers, ambassadors, MKs, the Prime Minister's advisers, Prime Minister's bureau employees and representatives of various ministries attended the ceremony.
Sheffer, 45, and the father of two, has served Prime Minister Netanyahu since the latter took up office in 2009. Before being appointed to head the Prime Minister's staff, Sheffer served as head of the bureau and head of the Prime Minister's Office branch for events, tours and ceremonies. In the course of his duties, Sheffer worked with the Prime Minister on diplomatic, security, economic and social issues and coordinated his advisers' staff work in various fields both in Israel and abroad.
Sheffer also managed special projects on the Prime Minister's behalf such as the visits of heads of state and government and coordinating with the various relevant officials regarding the Prime Minister's work, including liaison with ministers and the Knesset. Sheffer joined the Prime Minister's Office after many years in public service including as head of the spokesman's, information and ceremonies department at the Municipality of Jerusalem.
Gil Sheffer said: "The Prime Minister's bureau is not just a place of work for me – it is home. A warm and vibrant home that is full of activity. A home in which an endless number of things is happening at any moment. This home became an inseparable part of my life and will continue to be such tomorrow as well – when I will no longer be here. Today, I sign off on an important chapter of my life – after 15 years in public service, the last five of which at the Prime Minister's side. The time has come to say thank-you – and good-bye."
Sheffer added: "Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for the full and endless confidence you have given me, and the almost complete freedom to do what I saw fit, for the patience and attention to detail, for the backing and support, for the long, long moments we spent together in Israel, abroad, everywhere. Mr. Prime Minister, I received and learned much from you.
“This was a great experience that will affect and accompany me my whole life. I saw from up close the responsibility on your shoulders, the moments in which you need to make hard decisions alone, the burden of the diplomatic, security, economic and social challenges. I have always been impressed by your devotion to the goal; by your focusing on the big picture and the small details; and by the experience, professionalism and equanimity. I saw your devotion to the security of the country. I was constantly moved and impressed by the humanity and inner sensitivity. Thank you for the big things and the small things, including imaginative and discreet things that will always be with me." Sheffer wished his successor, Ari Harow, success, and told him, "Your success is important to all of us."
Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "I learned to know Gil and he has a great soul. This is very important. Many other qualities are also important but in my view, this is the most important. You have a soul, Gil and you are from the heart, and this is how we felt with you. We felt that here is someone who can be relied on. I felt that you were an entire team and you ran an entire team in order to allow me to move the country forward. Your sensitivity to people and concern for small details, this you did with responsibility and proficiency, by understanding the soul of others. You were also successful in that the staff worked like a staff with a soul, with unity of purpose and great loyalty. This is a splendid feeling for a prime minister.
“On behalf of the country, thank you because we did important things regarding security, the economy, borders, markets. All these and many other things were possible because there was space to move the ball forward. You gave this space and I am grateful to you. Therefore, when you take your leave of us, we are not taking our leave from you, and I want to wish you that you will continue to contribute. I am certain that you will do so. Thank you Gil from the bottom of my heart. Thank you."
Prime Minister Netanyahu noted that Sheffer had assisted him over the years with great professionalism and had allowed him to carry out his complex and challenging tasks in the best way possible thanks to his great sensitivity, capabilities, creativity and experience.
At the end of the ceremony, those present viewed a film prepared by Gil's friends in the bureau, with the participation of Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Sheffer will be replaced by Ari Harow, 40, father of four. Harow has a BA in psychology from City University of New York and an MA in political science from Tel Aviv University. He served as Netanyahu's adviser for foreign liaison in 2007 and served as the head of his bureau as Leader of the Opposition, and as Prime Minister in 2008-2010. In 2010-2013, he set up and ran an international consulting firm. Harow is deeply familiar with government networks, Jewish communities and organizations and the media in both the US and other countries. As head of the Prime Minister's bureau, he will assist the Prime Minister in the diplomatic sphere.