Israel's First Lady Nechama Rivlin Passes Away
Israel's First Lady Nechama Rivlin Passes Away Haim Zach/GPO

Nechama Rivlin, the First Lady of Israel and the wife of President Reuven Rivlin, died Tuesday morning at the age of 73. She died at Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva, one day before her 74th birthday.

"Unfortunately, all the doctors' efforts to stabilize her during the complex rehabilitation process that followed her transplant failed,” hospital officials said.

"The medical teams of the chest, lung, cardiology and intensive care units did not leave Mrs. Rivlin's bed throughout the period", the staff of Beilinson said, "we treated this wonderful woman with devotion and professionalism".

"This is a sad day for all of us at the medical center. The hospital staff is mourning.”

"We embrace the family and send our condolences to the President of the State, their children, grandchildren and family."

Earlier this year, Mrs. Rivlin underwent a single lung transplant at Beilinson. The First Lady had been suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, and underwent the operation following a lengthy waiting period to find a donated lung.

While the operation to transplant the lung had been a success, Mrs. Rivlin was left in serious condition, suffering shortness of breath due to cardiac complications, forcing President Rivlin to cut short a State visit abroad.

Nechama was born in 1945 in Moshav Herut in the Sharon region, to Drora and Mendy Shulman, who had immigrated from the Ukraine and were among the founders of the moshav.

In 1964 she began studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, studying natural sciences. She graduated with a BSc in botany and zoology and holds a teaching certificate in these departments.

In 1967 she began working at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as a researcher in the Department of Zoology, and then moved to the Department of Ecology and the Department of Genetics. In addition, Nechama studied the history of art in the fields of modern, classical and ancient art.

In 1971 she married Reuven (Rubi) Rivlin and settled in Jerusalem. Nechama had three children - Rivi (Rivka), Anat and Ran. She was grandmother to Matan, Ziv, Shai, Karni, Maya, Daniela and Yahav, and sister to Varda.

In 2007 Nechama retired and, was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable lung disease that required her to use a portable oxygen device. When Nechama moved to Beit HaNasi, she chose to focus on art, activities for children with special needs, the environment and nature, through compassion and love of people.

Nechama was a regular visitor to Israel’s cultural institutions, particularly those in Jerusalem, out of true love for art in all its forms. Nechama was particularly fond of the Cinematheque and Smadar cinemas in Jerusalem, where she used to watch films regularly.

Nechama's fondness for Hebrew literature and art led her to write from time to time about writers and artists who particularly appreciated the posts she published on the official Facebook page of the president. She generally began her posts with the words "Hello everyone, Nechama here," and signed them "Yours, Nechama." They became especially beloved to followers of the page and to lovers of culture and art in Israel.

In 2018, Nechama established the President's Award for Hebrew Poetry. On the committee's announcement of the winner Amichai Hasson, Nechama said: "I congratulate the lovers of language and words, the writers and poets who make magic with them and wish that our world will always have people in it who make poetry from it."

הנשיא ריבלין: ''נחמה שלי חזקה מאוד'' לע"מ