Foreign diplomats in Israel mourn ‘extraordinary and gentle’ Nechama Rivlin
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Foreign diplomats in Israel mourn ‘extraordinary and gentle’ Nechama Rivlin

‘Her kindness, generosity, and wisdom will always be remembered,’ says German envoy; she ‘exuded charm wherever she went,’ UK embassy writes

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and his wife (3R) Nechama Rivlin during a welcome ceremony at the President's residence in Jerusalem for Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and his wife Doris Schmidauer (2L) on February 4, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and his wife (3R) Nechama Rivlin during a welcome ceremony at the President's residence in Jerusalem for Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and his wife Doris Schmidauer (2L) on February 4, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Foreign diplomats stationed in Israel expressed sorrow over the death of President Reuven Rivlin’s wife Nechama on Tuesday, one day shy of her 74th birthday.

The Twitter account of the British embassy in Tel Aviv, writing in Hebrew and English, expressed sadness at Rivlin’s passing. “She was an extraordinary and gentle woman who exuded charm wherever she went.”

The European Union’s delegation in Ramat Gan also posted a statement of condolence in Hebrew.

Germany’s ambassador to Israel, Susanne Wasum-Rainer, said she was “deeply saddened” to learn about Rivlin’s death. “Her kindness, generosity, and wisdom will always be remembered. In this time of grief, Germany stands by President Rivlin & his family and wishes them strength and consolation,” she tweeted, in both English and Hebrew.

Australian envoy Chris Cannan said his country mourned the loss of Israel’s “beloved” first lady, but also honored her contributions to Israel. “Our thoughts are with the Rivlin family and the people of Israel at this difficult time. May her memory be a blessing,” he wrote.

In a condolence tweet, a spokesperson for Czech President Milos Zeman recalled meeting the Rivlins last year during a visit to Jerusalem.

“We would like to express our deep and sincere condolences to president Reuven Rivlin and his family. Nechama Rivlin, the First Lady of the State of Israel, will always stay in our hearts and memories,” the Czech embassy in Tel Aviv tweeted.

Ambassadors from Italy, Poland, Canada, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Sweden and other countries issued similar statements.

Rivlin died on Tuesday morning at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, where she was being treated after relapsing following a lung transplant in March.

“Three months after a lung transplant, Nechama Rivlin died this morning,” the hospital said in a statement. “To our regret, the medical efforts to stabilize her over time during the complicated rehabilitation period after the transplant did not succeed.”

Soft-spoken and always mild-mannered, Rivlin was eulogized by Israeli politicians from across the political spectrum.

“Together with all citizens of Israel, my wife Sara and I express deep sorrow over the passing of Nechama Rivlin, the wife of President Reuven Rivlin,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

“We all prayed for her recovery during the recent period in which she fought for her life heroically and with strength of spirit. We send our deepest heartfelt condolences to the president and all members of his family. May her memory be blessed.”

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