Baruch Dayan HaEmmes: Nechama Rivlin, the wife of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, was Niftar on Tuesday morning at the age of 73, on the eve of her 74th birthday.
In a statement, the President’s Residence said the First Lady passed away of lung failure at Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikvah, three months after she received a transplant.
She been suffering from pulmonary fibrosis for years, but still regularly appeared in public alongside her husband, President Reuven Rivlin, accompanied by a mobile oxygen device.
“Three months after a lung transplant, Nechama Rivlin died this morning,” Beilinson Hospital said in a statement. “To our regret, the medical efforts to stabilize her over time during the complicated rehabilitation period after the transplant did not succeed.”
The Israeli presidency is a mostly ceremonial role. Nechama Rivlin was a popular first lady who focused on the arts, the environment and children with special needs.
Born in an Israeli farming community, she married the future president in 1971 and was a trusted adviser throughout his political career. [See full bio in extended article]
She is survived by her husband, three children and seven grandchildren.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his condolences to the Rivlin family.
“Along with all the citizens of Israel, my wife Sara and I feel deep sorrow at the death of the president’s wife, Nechama Rivlin,” Netanyahu said in a brief statement.
“We all prayed for her recovery during the recent period during which she fought bravely and intensely for her life. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the president and to all his family,” he said.
We are truly saddened by the loss of Nechama Rivlin, First Lady of Israel, who was like a mother to us all. Rest in Peace, Nechama. pic.twitter.com/euMWD7rEq1
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) June 4, 2019
The President’s Residence released the following statement:
The President and family members would like to thank the staff of the entire Beilinson Hospital for the dedicated, sensitive and professional treatment it has received over the last few months, nights and days, with a broad and welcoming heart.
In addition, the Rivlin family wishes to thank the Israeli citizens and the heads of the communities, who have continued to inquire into Nechama’s well-being, as well as sending letters and exciting children’s drawings to the hospital and the President’s Residence, and to daven for her daily, every hour. This concern gave the president and all the family members powers and support whose strength cannot be described in words.
The family’s thanks go also to the Halabli family, who donated the lung of their late son Yair Z”L to Nechama, for their wonderful inspirational nobility and wonderful deed.
Nechama was born in 1945 in Moshav Herut in the Sharon region.
Her parents, Drora (Keila) and Mandy Shulman, immigrated from the Ukraine and were among the founders of the moshav. Nechama studied from kindergarten until the end of the elementary school in her native area. She completed her high school studies at the Emek Chefer Rupin Regional School, and due to surgery for scoliosis of her back, she received a postponement of her army service.
In 1964 she began studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, studying natural sciences – biology. She graduated with a BSC degree in botany and zoology and holds a teaching certificate in these departments.
In 1967 she began working at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in a research in the Department of Zoology, and then moved to the Department of Ecology and the Department of Genetics. In addition, Nechama has studied the history of art in the fields of modern, classical and ancient art.
In 1971 she married Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin and stayed in Jerusalem. Nechama gave birth to three children. Rivi (Rivka), Anat and Ran, were grandmother to Matan, Ziv, Shai, Karni, Maya, Daniela and Yahav, and sister Lorda.
In 2007 Nechama retired and then discovered that she had an incurable lung disease that forced her to use a portable oxygen device. When Nechama moved to the President’s Residence, she chose to focus on art, activities for children with special needs, the environment and nature, and the preservation of the earth through compassion and love of people.
An article about the book, Dov Paddington, Nechama wrote: “How often do we pass an injured animal or bird and look away, only that we do not have to take the burden of caring for her?” Later, she even dubbed a character in the film based on this book.
Nechama set up a community garden in the garden of the President’s Residence, where children from all over the country came to plant and plant plants, spices and flowers on a regular basis.
Nechama frequented all the cultural institutions in Israel, with an emphasis on the Jerusalem institutions, out of true love for art in all its forms. Nechama kept a special place in the Cinematheque in Jerusalem and at the Smadar Cinema, where she used to watch films regularly.
Nechama’s fondness for Hebrew literature and nationalism led her to write from time to time about writers who particularly liked the posts she published on the official Facebook page of the president. “Hello, everyone here, Nechama,” was the usual opening of the articles she wrote, which she signed with the words “Yours, Nechama,” which became especially kind to the public of the page’s followers and to the lovers of culture and art in Israel.
In the year of 2018, Nechama established the President’s Award for Hebrew Poetry. On the occasion of the committee’s announcement of the winner Amichai Hasson, Nechama said: “I congratulate the lovers of language and words, the writers who make magic and sorcery and wish for our world that there will always be people who sing it.”
יהי זכרה ברוך.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)