President Rivlin and family ends 30-day mourning period

In the immediate aftermath of his wife's death, Rivlin had decided to seclude himself and his family from the public so that family could privately take stock of its tragedy.

July 4, 2019 00:20
3 minute read.
President Rivlin and family ends 30-day mourning period

President Reuven Rivlin together with US ambsaador David Friedman and his wife Tammy raise a toast in honor of American Independence Day. (photo credit: MARK NEIMAN - GPO)

President Reuven Rivlin and his family will mark the end of the 30-day mourning period on Thursday since the death of his wife, Nechama, who passed away at Beilinson Hospital on June 4 on the eve of her 74th birthday.

The president and his family were scheduled to pay a private visit to Nechama Rivlin’s grave on Mount Herzl on Thursday afternoon, and to gather afterward in the garden at the President’s Residence that Nechama loved so much, and where she encouraged children to make their own connections with horticulture.

On Friday, Rivlin will be back at Mount Herzl to participate in a memorial ceremony for former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir on the seventh anniversary of his death.

Nechama Rivlin is buried in the same section of the cemetery as Shamir.

In the immediate aftermath of his wife’s death, Rivlin had decided to seclude himself and his family from the public so that it could deal privately with the tragedy.

But there was such an outpouring of sympathy and affection, with hundreds of queries asking whether it was possible to come to the shiva mourning period that Rivlin reversed his decision and allowed the public to come to the funeral and to the President’s Residence to personally express their sadness at his wife’s passing.

Thousands of people came to pay a shiva call – individually, as families, and in groups as representatives of organizations, institutions and communities. They included politicians, diplomats, academics, jurists and relatively anonymous members of the public – Jews, Christians, Muslims and others.

Due to the festival of Shavuot, the family did not sit the full week, and the president himself did not really have time to mourn, because he attended synagogue services during Shavuot, and immediately afterward resumed his duties which inter alia included numerous meetings with various Israeli and foreign dignitaries, accepting credentials of new ambassadors, and hosting large-scale events that were part of an annual tradition, or which marked milestone anniversaries.

The absence of time for himself has taken its toll on the president, so much so that in a departure from tradition, he did not participate in the official ceremony marking the 243rd anniversary of American independence, which was hosted in Jerusalem for the first time,

Many of the guests were surprised because Rivlin has long been known as the paramount defender of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as well as that of the Jewish people.

His family has lived in Jerusalem since 1809.

Moreover, Rivlin seldom misses an opportunity to speak of the strong alliance between Israel and the United States.

But according to a member of his staff, the crowd and the time factor were just too much for the president, who will turn 80 on September 9.

Rivlin did go to the Jerusalem International Convention Center to congratulate US Ambassador David Friedman and to raise a toast with him, but he simply wasn’t up to addressing the huge crowd.

However, he did have a private tête-à-tête with Friedman and his aides and discussed the importance of relations between the two countries.

Nechama Rivlin had been suffering from a rare and acute respiratory disease and was waiting for a lung transplant. The president, who was on a state visit to Canada at the beginning of April when notified that a lung had become available, immediately cut short his visit to return to Israel to be at his wife’s bedside.

The operation was a success, but unfortunately, Nechama Rivlin’s health continued to deteriorate.

Though greatly concerned, the president continued with his duties, and appeared to take on an even greater load in addition to his frequent visits to the hospital.

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