Beit HaNasi has announced with deep sorrow the passing of Nechama Rivlin ז”ל, the wife of President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, on Tuesday 4 June / 1 Sivan at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva. She was 73 when she died, shortly before her 74th birthday.
Nechama underwent a lung transplant three months ago on Monday 11 March 2019 / 4 Adar II 5779, an operation she needed due to the pulmonary fibrosis from which she suffered in recent years.
The president and family members expressed their heartfelt thanks to the entire staff of Beilinson Hospital for the dedicated, sensitive and professional treatment she received over the last few months, night and day, with an open heart.
“Unfortunately, all the doctors’ efforts to stabilize her during the complex rehabilitation process that followed her transplant failed,” hospital officials said.
“The medical teams of the chest, lung, cardiology and intensive care units did not leave Mrs. Rivlin’s bed the whole time… This is a sad day for all of us at the medical center. The hospital staff is mourning,” the staff said.
In addition, the Rivlin family expressed profound thanks to “the citizens of Israel and the heads of the communities who have continued to ask after Nechama’s health, to send letters and wonderful children’s drawings to the hospital and to Beit HaNasi, and to pray for her every day, every hour. Their love and concern gave the president and all members of the family strength and support that cannot be described in words.”
The family also expressed tremendous appreciation to the Halabli family, who donated their late son Yair’s lung, for their inspiring nobility and wonderful deed.
Leading the tributes to the life of Nechama Rivlin, a’h was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He said, “Along with the citizens of Israel, my wife Sara and I would like to express our deep sorrow over the death of the president’s wife, Nechama, We have all been praying for her recovery these past weeks, as she was bravely fighting for her life. We send our condolences to the president, his family and to the entire country. May her memory be blessed.”
Nehama Rivlin ז”ל–biography
Nechama was born in 1945 in Moshav Herut in the Sharon region.
Her parents, Drora (Keila) and Mendy 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 the area.
Her father died when she was five and her mother was left to work the farm. “I remember her working hard and fighting like a lioness for the right to work the land, despite the objective difficulties entailed in choosing such a demanding way of life. She never sank into debt – no small feat in a cooperative farming settlement,” Rivlin wrote in Haaretz in 2016.
Nechama completed her high school studies at the Emek Hefer Ruppin Regional School, and due to back surgery, she received a postponement of her army service.
In 1964 she began studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, studying natural sciences. She graduated with a BSc in botany and zoology and holds a teaching certificate in these departments.
In 1967 she began working at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as a researcher in the Department of Zoology, and then moved to the Department of Ecology and the Department of Genetics. In addition, Nechama studied the history of art in the fields of modern, classical and ancient art.
In 1971 she married Reuven (Rubi) Rivlin and settled in Jerusalem. Nechama had three children–Rivi (Rivka), Anat and Ran. She was grandmother to Matan, Ziv, Shai, Karni, Maya, Daniela and Yahav, and sister to Varda.
In 2007 Nechama retired and then discovered that she had an incurable lung disease that required her to use a portable oxygen device. When Nechama moved to Beit HaNasi, she chose to focus on art, activities for children with special needs, the environment and nature, through compassion and love of people.
In a post she wrote about the book Paddington Bear Nechama wrote: “How often do we pass an injured animal or bird and look away, just so we do not have to take on the burden of caring for it?” Later, she even voiced a character in the film based on the 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 was a regular visitor to Israel’s cultural institutions, particularly those in Jerusalem, out of true love for art in all its forms. Nechama was particularly fond of the Cinematheque and Smadar cinemas in Jerusalem, where she used to watch films regularly.
Nechama’s fondness for Hebrew literature and art led her to write from time to time about writers and artists who particularly appreciated the posts she published on the official Facebook page of the president. She generally began her posts with the words “Hello everyone, Nechama here,” and signed them “Yours, Nechama.” They became especially beloved to followers of the page and to lovers of culture and art in Israel.
In 2018, Nechama established the President’s Award for Hebrew Poetry. On the committee’s announcement of the winner Amichai Hasson, Nechama said: “I congratulate the lovers of language and words, the writers and poets who make magic with them and wish that our world will always have people in it who make poetry from it.”
She was popular with the Israeli public. “People loved me a great deal. I don’t know why,” she said in a radio interview last year, inadvertently revealing part of her charm.
May her memory be a blessing.
יהי זכרה ברוך