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Friday, September 20, 2019

(JNS and combined sources) Nechama Rivlin, who passed away on June 4 at the age of 73—just one day before her 74th birthday—led a quiet life by the side of her husband, Reuven Rivlin, the current president of Israel.

In a column the Israeli president wrote celebrating Jerusalem Day, President Rivlin said he “found the love of my life, Nechama, in Jerusalem.”

Nechama Rivlin was known to be a vocal supporter of women and children, particularly at-risk youth and children with special needs, as well as a staunch advocate of the environment and the arts. She also loved dogs and cooking, and from time to time would write Facebook posts about her husband.

The first lady retired from her professional life in 2007, after which she became seriously ill with pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable condition in which scar tissue accumulates in the lungs and impedes normal breathing. As the disease worsened, she was forced to use an oxygen tank at all times. In March, she underwent a lung transplant and second surgery. At the beginning of May Mrs. Rivlin’s health declined, leaving her suffering from severe shortness of breath due to cardiac complications.

U.S. President Donald Trump expressed condolences, saying she had represented her country “with grace and stature,” adding, “Melania and I send our deepest condolences to President Reuven Rivlin and the entire State of Israel upon the passing of Mrs. Nechama Rivlin. Mrs. Rivlin represented her beloved country with grace and stature. We will miss her along with all those who knew her.”

The U.S. State Department wrote that on behalf of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the American people “we extend our deepest condolences to President Reuven Rivlin, his family and the people of Israel on the passing of Israel’s First Lady, Nechama Rivlin. Beloved for her warmth and kindness, she touched the hearts of so many over the years. Our hearts are with all who mourn her loss during this difficult time.”

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman posted on Twitter that “her strength in the face of adversity will remain an inspiration to all who knew her.”

The Arab Regional Councils released a statement extending their condolences to President Rivlin. In an official statement, the councils said that the decision to extend official condolences was made jointly by the heads of all the Arab Regional Councils in Israel. The statement added that “President Rivlin is a voice of sanity in a public domain that is radicalizing against the Arab population.”

“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,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “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.”

Married for nearly 50 years, President and Mrs. Rivlin have three children: Rivka, Anat and Ran, and is a grandmother to seven: Matan, Ziv, Shai, Karni, Maya, Daniella and Yahav.