Photography: Itay Lifshitz
"Life itself is a miracle"
Shmuel was born in Lyon, France in 1938, the youngest child in his family. During WW2 he was sent to the black forest area on behalf of the Red Cross. He grew up as a Christian and went by the name Sammy. Some of his family survived the holocaust and migrated to Israel. At age 13, he realized he was attracted to men and didn't see it as something unusual, even though he didn't know any gay people to compare himself to.
In 1973, a short while after Yom Kippur War, Shmuel met his first partner when he strolled in Ha'Yarkon street. A street that was known as today's Grinder/cruising. The following year he moved to Tel Aviv and started to engage in social circles and the association's activities. He was one of the War Against AIDS Committee's founders and the editor "Nativ Nosaf" � the LGBT association's journal. His name was on the cover of every pamphlet he wrote or edited, a fact that could've risked him legally and professionally, but Shmuel wasn't deterred, for he never saw his sexual orientation as something to be ashamed of.
In 1966 occurred an event that broke Shmuel's serene demeanor: president Ezer Vaizman's remark. During a visit to the Hebrew Reali School in Haifa, when asked for his opinion on homosexuals, the president's response was "generally to me it's an abnormal and negative phenomenon". As a response, Shmuel joined a protest group. "When the president speaks like that towards a whole group of the country's population, I can't accept it. Only 300 people came to protest", he tells with a look of disappointment on his face. He decided to write a public statement letter. He made hundreds of copies which he sent to all members of the Israeli parliament at the time. Only a few responded.
Shmuel has great courage, probably an outcome of his proud, unapologetic lifestyle. One that chooses to live his life and enjoy what the world has to offer, even at the age of 84. "Life itself is a miracle. The world doesn't belong only to the young. Even in older age you can find new interests, initiate, and fulfill yourself. Life is short, so enjoy it", he sums up with a smile.