Nechama Rivlin dies at 73

Nechama and Reuven Rivlin.

First lady Nechama Rivlin, the wife of Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, has passed away at 73, the President’s Residence reported Tuesday morning.

Her funeral will take place on Wednesday afternoon at Mt. Herzl.

Flags at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem were lowered to half mast in a sign of mourning.

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

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.

The Rivlins have three children – Rivka, Anat and Ran – and numerous grandchildren.

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.

An outpouring of love and condolences came from politicians, citizens and organisations throughout the country.

“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.”

Extending its condolences, the Zionist Federation of Australia said in a statement, “Nechama Rivlin was, by all accounts, an individual who assumed her national responsibilities with grace, bringing her innate characteristics of humanity, respect and commitment to those in need to her role.

“She will be remembered for her values, her warmth and her compassion to all. May her memory be a blessing, for her family and friends, the State of Israel and the Jewish world.”

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) added, “As Israel’s First Lady, she was widely respected for her warmth, intelligence and kindness, as well as her focus on the arts, environment and children with special needs.

“Her dedication to her family and to Israel will never be forgotten, and her memory will always be a blessing to all who knew her.”