Israel mourns as first lady Nechama Rivlin dies at 73

The beloved wife of the president died just one day before her 74th birthday, on June 5.

By
June 4, 2019 23:28

Israel mourns the passing of First Wife Nechama Rivlin

Israel mourns the passing of First Wife Nechama Rivlin

 
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First lady Nechama Rivlin, the wife of President Reuven Rivlin, passed away at 73 on Tuesday, just one day before her 74th birthday.

She is survived by their three children – Rivka, Anat and Ran – and seven grandchildren.

Rivlin’s funeral will take place Wednesday at Mount Herzl. Her coffin will be placed at the Jerusalem Theater between 2-5 p.m., after which the cortège will depart to Mount Herzl. At 6 p.m., she will be laid to rest at the Gedolei Ha’uma (Leaders of the Nation) section, where eulogies will be delivered.

“At the request of the family, and as a mark of their deep appreciation for the concern shown by the citizens of Israel during her illness, the public is invited to participate in both events,” the President’s Residence said.

Flags at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem were lowered to half-mast. An outpouring of love and condolences came from politicians, citizens and organizations throughout the country.



An outpouring of love and condolences came from politicians, citizens and organizations throughout the world.

"Together with all the citizens of Israel, my wife, Sara, and I express deep sorrow for the passing of the wife of the president, Nechama Rivlin," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "We all prayed for her healing during the last period in which she fought bravely and intensely for her life. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the president and to all his family. R.I.P."

Following the news, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he and his wife Sophie "are heartbroken to hear of First Lady Nechama Rivlin’s passing. @PresidentRuvi, Canadians are grieving with you and we send you our deepest condolences."

Jason Greenblatt, the US Special Representative for International Negotiations, tweeted that "our thoughts and prayers are with Israel’s President Rivlin, his family and the people of Israel today upon the passing of First Lady Nechama Rivlin. May her memory be a blessing."

US National Security advisor John Bolton also took to Twitter to share his condolences. "The United States joins Israel in mourning the passing of First Lady Nechama Rivlin."

"AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] mourns the passing of Nechama Rivlin, wife of @PresidentRuvi. Nechama was an accomplished scientist, a promoter of the arts, and an advocate for the environment," the organization shared to Twitter. "We extend our condolences to the Rivlin family and all Israelis. May her memory be a blessing."

"With the passing of the president's wife, Mrs. Nechama Rivlin, the [members of the] Blue and White Party are bowing their heads in memory of [Nechama] and are mourning for the President and his family," said the party's chairman Benny Gantz. "Nechama was a wonderful woman, she faced difficulties with a smile and was a model for all of Israel. R.I.P."

"The Jewish Agency and Diaspora Jews around the world bow their heads in mourning for the first lady of Israel, Nechama Rivlin, who led with modesty, with generosity and love." said Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog. "We embrace the president and the Rivlin family and wish to participate in your great mourning."

"Sending hugs and condolences to the president and his family," said Labor head Avi Gabbay. "Nechama's modesty and love for everyone will always be with us. R.I.P. - she will motivate us in the years to come."


"I sympathize with President Reuven Rivlin and his daughter for his dear wife, Nechama," Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon tweeted.

"Together with all the citizens of Israel, I share the sorrow of President Rivlin for the passing of his wife Nechama," former justice minister Ayelet Shaked tweeted. "The Rivlins were a model couple, an example of truth and love. I got to know Nechama in recent years and discovered a wonderful personality with a tremendous love for the state and the citizens of Israel. May her memory be blessed."

The British Embassy in Tel Aviv shared their condolences, saying: "Sad to hear about Nechama Rivlin's death. She was an extraordinary and gentle woman who charmed wherever she went. We send our condolences to President Rivlin and his family. R.I.P."

"Deeply saddened at the passing of Nechama Rivlin, beloved wife of President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin," said Australian Ambassador to Israel Chris Cannan. "We mourn her loss and honour her contributions to Israel. Our thoughts are with the Rivlin family and the people of Israel at this difficult time. May her memory be a blessing."

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of Nechama Rivlin," tweeted Polish Ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowski. "My heartfelt condolences to President Ruvi and all citizens of the State of Israel."


Nechama Rivlin as a young girl (Courtesy of Rivlin family)

 
Nechama suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, an interstitial lung disease, and has used an oxygen tank for many years to assist her breathing. Despite this, she often accompanied her husband on trips around the world.

The first lady would write from time to time on the president's official Facebook page about Israeli and Hebrew-language writers and artists whom she appreciated. She began her posts with the words "Hello everyone, Nechama here," and signed off with "Yours, Nechama."

The president and family members thanked the staff of the Beilinson Hospital for the "dedicated, sensitive and professional treatment she received over the last few months, night and day, with a broad and welcoming heart," according to a press release from the President's Residence.


Nechama and Reuven Rivlin. (Kobi Gidon/GPO)

Rivlin was born in 1945 in Moshav Herut, in the Sharon region. Her parents, Drora (Keila) and Mendy Shulman, immigrated to what was then Palestine from the Ukraine and were among the moshav's founders.

She worked as a researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the departments of zoology, ecology and genetics before retiring in 2007.

Yvette Deane contributed to this report.

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