The death Tuesday morning of Nechama Rivlin, wife of President Reuven Rivlin, drew an outpouring of condolences from Israeli officials who eulogized her great efforts on behalf of others, alongside her modesty.
Rivlin died on the eve of her 74th birthday at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, where she was being treated after relapsing following a lung transplant in March.
Soft-spoken and mild-mannered, Rivlin was eulogized by Israeli politicians from across the political spectrum with many officials using their personal Twitter accounts to share condolences.
“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 shortly after the death was announced.
“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.”
“In my name and in the name of the Knesset, Knesset members and employees, I share the deep sorrow of my friend, President Reuven Rivlin and his family,” tweeted Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. “With her special personality and her countenance, Nechama affected everyone who came into contact with her. She’ll be missed by us all.”
Blue and While party leader Benny Gantz also extended condolences, saying the first lady was a “wonderful woman whose face was always shining no matter what difficulty she faced.”
Isaac Herzog, head of the Jewish Agency for Israel and former opposition leader in the Knesset, tweeted that his organization and “the Jews of the Diaspora around the world bow their heads in mourning for the first lady of Israel, Nechama Rivlin, who led, modestly and with infinite love, extensive social activity, opening doors to the citizens of Israel and the Jewish people.”
Transportation Minister Israel Katz tweeted that he “is deeply saddened” by Rivlin’s death.
“In recent months, a whole country prayed for her health and recovery,” he wrote. “Nechama’s activity for the sake of others, her modesty, dedication and contribution to Israeli society will be remembered forever.”
Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev expressed her “deep sorrow,” and MK Avigdor Liberman wrote that “Nechama will forever be remembered as a woman of valor, modest, with a broad heart and infinite giving to others.”
Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel wrote that Rivlin “leaves behind a great legacy of human love.”
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan declared “the entire State of Israel is sad over the passing of a woman who was an example of giving and sensitivity.”
“Sad and flooded with tears since I received the bitter news from the grieving president about Nechama’s passing, my beloved friend,” tweeted veteran Knesset member Shelly Yachimovich of the Labor party along with a photo of her sitting next to Nechama Rivlin at an event.
“We lost a smart first lady, funny, full of life, and unusual in her modesty. Nechama was much more than the president’s beloved wife. A colorful, opinionated, educated, loving personality. And opinionated in its own right. It hurts,” Yachimovich wrote.
עצובה ומוצפת דמעות מאז שקבלתי מהנשיא הדואב את הבשורה המרה על לכתה של נחמה, חברתי האהובה. אבדנו גברת ראשונה חכמה, מצחיקה, מלאת חיים, ויוצאת דופן בצניעותה. נחמה היתה הרבה יותר מאשתו האהובה של הנשיא. אישיות ססגונית, דעתנית, משכילה, אוהבת. ודעתנית בזכות עצמה. זה כואב. pic.twitter.com/FFHWBmEvL3
— שלי יחימוביץ (@Syechimovich) June 4, 2019
MK Ayman Odeh, leader of the Arab Israeli Hadash-Ta’al party, wrote, “I am sorrowful over Nechama Rivlin’s death, a dear and loving woman. Condolences to President Rivlin and the entire family.”
President Rivlin’s personal Twitter account shared a short video of the flags at the his official residence being lowered to half staff.
The flags at Beit HaNasi have been lowered to half mast in honor of Nechama Rivlin ז"ל, Israel's First Lady, who passed away earlier today pic.twitter.com/Cg0dC2Bc4b
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) June 4, 2019
Nechama Rivlin suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, a condition in which scar tissue accumulates in the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. In the years before the transplant, she had usually been seen in public with a portable oxygen tank, including at official ceremonies.
The lung transplant was declared successful when it was completed on March 12, but doctors cautioned that her condition remained tenuous and that she faced a long road to recovery. She was taken to the hospital in April after a sudden deterioration in her condition, almost three weeks after receiving the transplant.