I lost my father, then my mother, then my younger brother, then my greatly beloved wife. I have endured years of pain and grief, mourning the loss of those dearest to me.
And today, once again, my heart cries out. We have lost our mother!
The blessed Nechama Rivlin, daughter of Israel, mother of Israel, wife of Israel’s great (if not the greatest) President Reuven Rivlin has left us. We are an orphaned nation. A nation without its mother.
Watching on television the funeral ceremonies in Jerusalem, hearing the words of love and praise spoken by our president through his tears crying out for his Nechamale, reminded me of the funeral of my beloved wife of 56 years, my darling life partner, my Rachele. The heart cries out!
Nechama Rivlin, of very blessed memory, was a sabra born in pre-state Mandatory Palestine in 1945. She grew up through the early days of turmoil, of hunger, of battles, of rationing, of deaths and too many burials, and through it all her faith in God and in the moral strength of the people of Israel preserved her. She never for even one moment lost that constant hope and faith in the goodness of man.
Almost 50 years of marriage to a fifth generation Jerusalemite who together raised three wonderful children, Nechama Rivlin was an inspiration to all of us long before she became our country’s First Lady.
Of the hundreds of photos of her during the course of a magical lifetime, the one which touches my heart more than all the others is the photo of Nechama serving platters of sliced cake which she had baked and presented them with love and devotion to our young soldiers manning our frontiers.
She was a beloved woman not only in her native Israel but throughout the world, honored in recent years as an official guest of the King and Queen of Spain, an official guest in Rome with an audience with the Pope, and a visit to the children of Vietnam.
Nechama Rivlin’s life as a scientist and naturalist was dedicated to the betterment of our citizens, especially our young children. Photos of her visiting the sick in hospitals, of bending down to kiss a disabled child in a wheelchair, touch the heart Her humanity cries out to each of our hearts.
We have lost our beloved mother
The physical Nechama is no more. But the spiritual Nechama will live on for hundreds of generations in the future. Her name is engraved in the hearts of those of us who survive her and who will transmit her magnificent legacy mi dor l’dor….. from one generation to another.
Watching the broadcast of the funeral, I had to stand up to pay respects and tribute to a great lady of whom King Solomon might have intended when, in his Book of Proverbs, chapter 31, he wrote: “aishet chayil mi yimtza…. “ a good woman, a good wife and mother, who can find? Her price is above rubies and diamonds. Her children praise her. Her husband blesses her.
Our nation, Jew and non-Jew alike, mourn the tragic loss in our lives with Nechama’s passing.
Immediately following the eight months of suffering from pancreatic cancer which took my Rahele away from me, my children and grandchildren, I wanted only to join her in death. My life had lost its meaning. She had been the great bright light in my life and without her I felt that I was walking in darkness.
The love and support of family and friends is treasured, but it is not the same thing. The loss of a loved one is a loss that cannot ever be replaced.
In extending tanchumim… heartfelt condolences to my honored and beloved President who must mourn for his wife in the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, I am comforted, as I hope he is also, by the outpouring of love not only from the ordinary citizens of Israel but also from the leaders of the world who knew and respected our mother, Nechama
Baruch Dayan ha-Emet. Blessed be the Judge of Truth. Hashem natan. Hashem lakach. Yehi shem Hashem m’vorach. The suffering servant Job defied death by his simple yet powerful reminder… God has given, God has taken away that which He has given. Blessed be the Name of God.
Together with the Rivlin family we mourn. We share their loss. We feel their pain. Their grief is our grief. Our tears are mingled with theirs.
Our nation has lost its beloved mother. The heart cries out.