On Monday, March 11, Nechama Rivlin, z”l, נחמה בת דרורה – Nechama bat Derora, wife of Israel President Reuven Rivlin, had a single lung transplant at Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikvah.
On June 5, on what would have been her 74th birthday she was buried in Har Herzl Cemetery.
President Rivlin and his family received condolence calls from all over the country and from world leaders on the passing of his wife.
At the entrance to Beit HaNasi, the Israeli President’s Residence, flags were lowered to half mast.
Eight pallbearers carried her casket into the Jerusalem Theater.
She loved the theater and the public was invited to come and pay respects.
The President came to the theater at 4:00 pm, surrounded by family and especially supported by a young grandson, before the cortege left for the cemetery.
More than four thousand people from all over the country, of all ages, tribes, and sectors, came to offer their condolences to the President and his family, including government ministers, Knesset members, military and police personnel, heads of various religious and ethnic communities in Israel, ambassadors and cultural and spiritual figures.
Because of the Shavuot holiday, the shiva mourning days were shortened from seven to only two days. Beit Hanasi was open to all those who wished to pay their respects.
Over the holiday weekend, I had time to think back over the past years and the hundreds of photos taken at Beit Hanasi.
At every event, I had to decide whether or not to post a photo with the oxygen line, as here standing next to the President at a New Year’s Reception for Diplomats at the 2017 Rosh Hashana “raise a glass.”
In June 2015, the Rivlins stood outside of Beit Hanasi during the anthems as the German President made an official visit.
Both presidents’ wives walked hand and hand down the red carpet. This is one of the few public appearances without portable oxygen in hand.
In spite of her medical condition, Nechama Rivlin attended the opening of Gazelle Park.
President Rivlin was out of the country and she was the featured speaker.
For diplomatic functions, the main hall gets crowded, none more so than for the visit of US President Trump to Jerusalem, Israel.
For the brief trip out to the back garden, Nechama had her oxygen in hand.
Here she is seated outside for the Jerusalem Foundation 50th year celebration.
The Rivlins posed on stage for a photo with dignitaries.
And they also posed with the young musicians who performed.
There were many first-row center seats in the garden for celebrations and performances. This one was memorable as their grandson had a special seat of honor.
The Rivlins hosted Bible study sessions and literary and other awards.
They initiated new events for Jewish holidays and sat the head of this seder for Tu Bishvat
Nechama Rivlin was the one who hosted groups of children in the garden for Tu Bishvat.
Various groups of young students were invited to the back garden.
With the Presidential cat supervising, she read to the children.
But the main activity was planting for Tu Bishvat in the children’s community garden she initiated.
In the neglected back corner past the synagogue, an area was cleared and flowers were planted.
The portable oxygen is seen not far away off to the right in this photo.
In 2016, Nechama Rivlin got down with her shovel to plant in the garden
With the President, she also acted as hostess to lone soldiers, on Sukkot to greet the public or at special events.
After dozens of times at Beit Hanasi, one event still stands out.
This sign in Hebrew across the Beit Hanasi entrance gate read “With love, Nechama and Ruvi Rivlin,” to welcome the children of police and security personnel
There was a special kids menu, with a carnival set up on the grounds.
As the Rivlins came out of the house and entered the grounds, Nechama Rivlin began by explaining to the children about her portable oxygen.
There was entertainment for young children, as age was limited that day for under 8 years old.
Starting in September 2015, a “wave of terror” had their parents on duty 24/7, and families under great stress.
The young guests sat that afternoon in October, as Nechama Rivlin read them a story.
As everyone was entering the main hall there was a loud noise.
For a second you could have heard a feather drop.
But as soon as it was realized a balloon had popped, the noisy chatter began again.
I think this was the first and last time I saw bunches of balloons in Beit Hanasi.
Nechama Rivlin z’l in spite of her lung disease, supported by loyal young staffers, worked beside her husband from the time his term as President began in July 2014, even traveling overseas.
She shared her love of gardening and literature and theater with young Israelis.
The president and his family were overwhelmed by the great love shown to them throughout Nechama’s illness, and the enormous warmth shown by so many people since her death. The President and his family thanked Beit Yisrael, the Jewish people, with all their hearts. The President and family expressed deep appreciation before the holiday began.
Outside the entrance of Beit Hanasi, flowers surrounded the black-draped photo.
I thought it fitting to share these few photographs and conclude with the traditional words to mourners.
המקום ינחם אותם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים
May you be comforted by the gates of mourners of Zion and Jerusalem
Link for President’s Eulogy HERE