Israel mourns as First Lady Nechama Rivlin laid to rest

Israel mourns as First Lady Nechama Rivlin laid to rest

Nechama Rivlin, the wife of President Reuven Rivlin, laid to rest Wednesday at Mt. Herzl cemetery after hundreds of people paid their final respects to one of the country’s most admired public figures at the Jerusalem Theater Plaza.

Nechama Rivlin died yesterday, a day before her 74th birthday, after succumbing to a pulmonary disease she fought for years and a lung transplant in March.

Nechama’s coffin was first placed at the Jerusalem Theater where friends, family and many of the Israeli public who have met her over the years, paid their condolences, recalling her bravery and her love for both people and nature.

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At 4 pm., President Reuven Rivlin and his family arrived at the Jerusalem Theater, and the funeral cortege departed for Mount Herzl at about an hour later.

President Rivlin was surrounded by his children and grandchildren as he recited the kaddish mourners’ prayer at the funeral.

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Eulogizing his wife Rivlin said that he woke up on Wednesday morning, like he has on this day for many years, and remembered that it was his wife’s birthday. She would have been 74.

“Happy birthday my love. It’s a very sad birthday,” said Rivlin as he eulogized her.

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Yesterday, President Rivlin thanked the hospital’s staff for their “dedicated, sensitive and professional treatment” they had given his wife over the past three months.

“The Rivlin family wishes to thank the people of Israel and religious leaders who have continued to be concerned about Nechama’s welfare, who have sent letters and children’s drawings to the hospital and the President’s Residence and who have prayed for her recovery every day, every hour.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he and his wife Sara offer their condolences for Rivlin’s death. “We’ve all prayed for her health during the recent period when she heroically fought for her life,” he added.

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Rivlin was born on moshav Herut; her parents, Mendi and Drora Kayla Shulman, helped establish the community. Her mother, who had immigrated from Ukraine, was widowed when Rivlin was a young girl.

Rivlin became a researcher at Hebrew University in 1967. Her initial role was in the Department of Zoology of the Hebrew University, and she later worked in the Department of Ecology, as well as in the Department of Genetics.

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In 1971, Nechama married Reuven Rivlin. The couple has three children, Rivka, Anat, and Ran, as well as several grandchildren.

Once, when President Rivlin was asked what he would want to have inscribed on his tombstone, he said: “He was married to Nechama.”