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Wife of Israeli president dies at 73

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 15, 2016 Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (L) watches as his wife Nechama Rivlin sprinkle rose petals while paying tribute at the Rajghat memorial for Indian independence hero Mahatama Gandhi on his visit to New Delhi. – Israel’s first lady Nechama Rivlin died Tuesday at the age of 73, the president’s office said in an official statement. (Photo by Prakash SINGH / AFP)

The wife of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Nehama Rivlin, died on Tuesday at 73 a few months after a lung transplant, the president’s office said.

Rivlin, whose formal title was Israel’s first lady, had undergone the lung transplant in March due to the pulmonary fibrosis that afflicted her in recent years, a statement said.

In Israel, the presidency is largely ceremonial and executive power rests with the prime minister, but her death led to an outpouring of grief from across the political spectrum.

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She regularly appeared alongside her husband at ceremonies and events in recent years despite having to use a portable oxygen tank due to her condition.

“We all prayed for her health,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has often been at odds with the president, said in a statement.

“We send condolences from the bottom of our heart to the president and all his family.”

Senior Labour lawmaker Shelly Yechimovich called her “smart, funny, vital and extraordinarily modest.”

“Nehama was much more than the president’s beloved wife,” she wrote on Twitter.

Born in the Sharon region in central Israel to immigrants from Ukraine, she studied natural sciences at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where she worked as a researcher.

She married Reuven Rivlin in 1971 and had three children and seven grandchildren.


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