Trump mourns Nechama Rivlin, says she represented Israel ‘with grace, stature’
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Trump mourns Nechama Rivlin, says she represented Israel ‘with grace, stature’

US president sends condolences to Israeli counterpart on what would have been first lady’s 74th birthday; funeral to be held later Wednesday

US President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with President Reuven Rivlin's wife Nechama as he arrives at Ben Gurion Airport on May 22, 2017, for his first official visit to Israel since becoming US president. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
US President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with President Reuven Rivlin's wife Nechama as he arrives at Ben Gurion Airport on May 22, 2017, for his first official visit to Israel since becoming US president. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday expressed condolences over the death of Israel’s first lady Nechama Rivlin, saying she had represented her country “with grace and stature.”

Trump’s tweet came some 24 hours after President Reuven Rivlin’s wife died, and on what would have been her 74th birthday.

“Melania and I send our deepest condolences to President Reuven Rivlin and the entire State of Israel upon the passing of Mrs. Nechama Rivlin,” Trump said on behalf of himself and his wife.

“Mrs. Rivlin represented her beloved country with grace and stature,” he added. “We will miss her along with all those who knew her.”

Melania Trump, wife of US President Donald Trump, left, and Nechama Rivlin, wife of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at the president’s residence in Jerusalem on May 22, 2017. (Mark Neyman/GPO)

Rivlin will be buried on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Mount Herzl national cemetery in Jerusalem.

Melania Trump (left), Nechama Rivlin (second left), wife of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, and Ivanka Trump (right), at the president’s residence in Jerusalem on May 22, 2017, during US President Donald Trump’s visit (Mark Neyman/GPO)

Prior to the funeral, her coffin will be placed at the Jerusalem Theater from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. At the request of the Rivlin family, the public has been invited to both pay its respects at the theater and attend the funeral.

President Reuven Rivlin and his wife Nechama at a cruise in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam on March 22, 2017.(Kobi Gideon / GPO)

The funeral service will include psalms and request for forgiveness read by Rabbi Benny Lau, the El Male Rachamim prayer sung by IDF chief cantor Shai Abramson, musical performances by Rona Kenan and Alon Eder, and eulogies by President Rivlin, daughter Anat Rivlin and author Haim Be’er.

On Thursday and Friday, the president and his family will receive condolence visits at his official residence in Jerusalem as part of the traditional shiva mourning period.

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.

“I’m happy Nechama is no longer suffering. She really deserves the love she is getting now and the recognition of her service and work,” Channel 12 news quoted Rivlin telling friends following his wife’s death.

The Rivlins had been married since 1971. In an archive television interview that has been screened frequently in the past day, President Rivlin was asked what he would most like to have written on his gravestone: “Me? That I was Nechama’s husband,” he said simply.

President Reuven Rivlin’s wife Nechama makes a surprise visit to the Border Policemen at the A-zaim checkpoint during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, on December 28, 2016. (GPO)

Soft-spoken and mild-mannered, Rivlin was eulogized Tuesday by Israeli politicians from across the political spectrum. She was also mourned by foreign diplomats stationed in Israel.

Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and German President Frank Walter Steinmeier all called Rivlin’s office to express their condolences, according to Channel 12, which reported the president only spoke by phone with a few close friends of his and his late wife’s.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his condolences to the Rivlin family.

“Along with all the citizens of Israel, my wife Sara and I feel deep sorrow at the death of the president’s wife, Nechama Rivlin,” Netanyahu said in a brief statement.

Nechama Rivlin was born in 1945 in Moshav Herut in the Sharon region. She married Reuven Rivlin in 1971, and worked for many years at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, until her retirement in 2007, at which point her lung condition was discovered.

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