First lady Nechama Rivlin, the wife of President Reuven Rivlin, has passed away at 73, just one day before her 74th birthday. Mrs Rivlin was laid to rest on Wednesday evening as condolences were expressed by world leaders.
Israel’s First Lady Nechama Rivlin was laid to rest in a state funeral on Wednesday evening at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl national cemetery. She was eulogized by her husband, President Reuven Rivlin, who began his remarks by wishing his wife a happy 74th birthday.
“My Nechama, our mother. I got up this morning — you know that I didn’t manage to sleep — I looked at the date that is so familiar [to me] — June 5. Happy birthday, my dear. Sad birthday,” the president said.
Periodically dabbing at his nose with a handkerchief, the president recounted parts of his wife’s life story, recalling her love of nature and farming.
“When I met you, I thought I was doing you an injustice, that maybe I’m too urban,” said the longtime Jerusalem resident, looking longingly at his wife’s resting place.
“But you, you became more of a Jerusalemite than Jerusalem natives,” he said of Nechama, who hailed from the central agricultural village of Herut, and went on to compliment his wife’s Yerushalmi kugel.
“You never wanted to be in the limelight, but you understood that as the president’s wife you had a role to fill,” Rivlin continued. “You chose to support children with special needs, to stand alongside women without being a demonstrative feminist.”
Rivlin thanked his children and grandchildren, who he said did not leave his wife’s bedside “for one moment” over the last several months. The president added that it was a testament to the kind of mother and grandmother that she had been.
President Rivlin pays his last respects to his wife, kisses her coffin
Posted by Arutz Sheva – Israel National News on Wednesday, 5 June 2019
An outpouring of condolences for the much loved first lady
“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.”
President Trump said, “Melania and I send our deepest condolences to President Reuven Rivlin and the entire State of Israel upon the passing of Mrs. Nechama Rivlin.”
“Mrs. Rivlin represented her beloved country with grace and stature,” he added. “We will miss her along with all those who knew her.”
.@FLOTUS Melania and I send our deepest condolences to President Reuven Rivlin and the entire State of Israel upon the passing of Mrs. Nechama Rivlin. Mrs. Rivlin represented her beloved country with grace and stature. We will miss her along with all those who knew her.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2019
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.”
About Nechama Rivlin and her final days
Nechama Rivlin was born on June 4, 1945 on Moshav Herut, a farming community in central Israel co-founded by her parents, Mendi and Drora Shulman, who immigrated from Ukraine
She enrolled at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1964 studying botany and genetics, and began working as a researcher three years later at the university’s Institute of Life Sciences, according to Ynet.
In 1970 she met her husband at a party. They were married a year later, and had three children, Rikva, Anat and Ran.
The first lady retired in 2007, and became seriously ill with pulmonary fibrosis. As the disease worsened, she was forced to use an oxygen tank to help her breathe.
In March, she underwent a lung transplant at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, receiving the organ of 19-year-old Yair Yechezkel Halabali, who died in Eilat days earlier. Nine days after the transplant, she underwent another surgical procedure to support the transplant.
At the beginning of May, however, Mrs. Rivlin’s condition worsened, leaving her suffering from severe shortness of breath and exhaustion. The president, who was on a state visit to Canada at the time, immediately decided to cut short his trip and return to Israel to be with her.
Sadly, on 4th June 2019, Nechama Rivlin passed away. As a sign of respect, flags at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem were lowered to half-mast.
The first lady’s funeral took place on Wednesday afternoon at Mt. Herzl. Nechama was laid to rest at the Gedolei Hauma (Leaders of the Nation) section of the cemetery.
The flags at Beit HaNasi have been lowered to half mast in honor of Nechama Rivlin ז"ל, Israel's First Lady, who passed away earlier today pic.twitter.com/Cg0dC2Bc4b
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) June 4, 2019