Tributes pour in as Israel’s First Lady Nechama Rivlin dies aged 73
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Tributes pour in as Israel’s First Lady Nechama Rivlin dies aged 73

Nechama Rivlin underwent a lung transplant in March after suffering from pulmonary illness for years

President Reuven with First Lady at a Rosh Hashanah reception in 2016
President Reuven with First Lady at a Rosh Hashanah reception in 2016

Israel’s First Lady Nechama Rivlin has died of lung failure on Tuesday at the age of 73.

Rivlin had received a lung transplant in March after suffering from a pulmonary illness for years.

Despite her condition, she regularly appeared in public alongside her husband with a mobile oxygen device.

In a statement, President Rivlin thanked Beilinson Hospital’s staff for the “dedicated, sensitive and professional treatment she received over the last few months, nights and days, with a broad and welcoming heart.”

Born in an Israeli farming community, Rivlin married the future president in 1971 and was a trusted adviser throughout his political career.

She was a researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where she worked in the zoology, ecology, and genetics departments until 2007.

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
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was among those to pay tribute to the 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,” he 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,” he added.

Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel, Isaac Herzog said it “Jews worldwide mourn First Lady Nechama Rivlin, who passed away today. She was involved in many social charities with love and modesty, opening the doors for Israelis and for the Jewish people. We embrace President Rivlin and family and share their grief”.

Meanwhile Blue and White party co-chairman Benny Gantz said the party is “bowing its head in memory” of Rivlin. “Nechama was a wonderful woman, she faced difficulties with a smile and a model for all of Israel. R.I.P,” he added.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis led UK tribute, saying “Nechama Rivlin was a lady of warmth, wisdom and humility whose loss will be mourned not just in Israel but across the Jewish world and beyond. We extend our condolences to President Rivlin and his family at this difficult time – may the Almighty comfort them among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”

Former Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, added that he and his wife Elaine “were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Nehama Rivlin earlier this morning. Our thoughts and prayers are with President Ruvi and his family at this difficult time.”

The Jewish Leadership Council tweeted its “deepest condolences” to President Rivlin and his family. “May her memory be a blessing,” they added.

In a statement, the Zionist Federation wrote: “When her husband became President and they moved to the President’s Residence, Nechama chose to focus on art, activities for children with special needs, the environment and nature, a manifestation of her compassion and love of people.

“We hope and pray that the family will, in time, find strength and comfort from their memories of their wife, mother and grandmother Nechama.”

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said: “I was very sorry to learn of the passing of Nechama Rivlin today, following her brave battle against chronic lung disease. Our thoughts are with President Rivlin and the family at this sad time.”

Rivlin is survived by her husband, her three children Rivka, Anat, and Ran and seven grandchildren.

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