Mike Hamel, former chair of the Aguda and a prominent social activist in the LGBTQ community, passed away yesterday (Tuesday, November 14) at the age of 62. Hamel died after a long battle with diabetes. He left a partner and three children.
Mike Hamel took over as chairman of the Aguda in June 2004 and led the organization until his term ended in 2011. During his years as chair he helped saving the Aguda from dissolution.
During his tenure at the Aguda, he helped make major gains for the LGBTQ community in Israel. Among other achievements, he initiated the collaboration with the Tel Aviv Municipality around LGBT tourism, worked to establish the national psychosocial system, and led pioneering collaborations with the state’s institutions.
Even after completing his official position, Mike continued to serve as a member of the Aguda and was involved in many social projects.
The funeral and farewell ceremony will be held on Sunday 19/11 at 7pm at the LGBT Center in Tel Aviv.
With the news of his passing, LGBTQ and human rights activists mourn him on social media.
“He was not the salt of the earth, Mike was much more than that, he was a man of giving and of love, and he spread it generously without asking for favors or profits,” said Or Maroni Cohen, an activist in the community. “In the days of corruption and violence, Mike was a man of grace and peace, a man who came out against harming children, youth, people. A man who spoke about human and civil rights, who lived with his disability but didn’t let it define his life. Give me a thousand Mikes and I will create and a magnificent country.”
MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) spoke about working with Hamel: “He was devoted to people and to the personal and public struggle for equal rights for all. Blind to sex, race, color, sexual orientation and faith. He left a magical memory in the hearts of all of us.”
A Wider Bridge’s Executive Director Arthur Slepian penned a statement on the loss of Mike Hamel, on behalf of the entire A Wider Bridge family:
At A Wider Bridge, we were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Mike Hamel, and we send our condolences to his family and friends and to the entire Israeli LGBTQ community who lost a beloved leader. Mike led The Aguda, Israel’s LGBTQ Task Force, for many years and worked tirelessly on behalf of the community. He traveled often to the United States and made many friends along the way. Mike was a mensch who did good deeds quietly and without much attention. Mike was a good friend to A Wider Bridge in our early days, and his friendship, counsel, good humor and generous spirit will all be missed. May his memory be for a blessing. — Arthur Slepian