Rivka was born on November 14, 1926 in Haifa to Paula and Matityahu Rabinowitz. She attended elementary school and then continued in the Bialik Gymnasium for high school. She joined the youth group Mahanot HaOlim.
In the second half of 1941, she was recruited into Lehi by the man who would soon be her husband. They were sent to carry out an operation, but it ended up being cancelled. In September 1943, after interrogating a captured Lehi operative, the CID arrived at her home. Her parents were shocked, as they had no idea that their seventeen-year-old daughter was involved in any such activity. She was brought in by the Haifa CID and interrogated by Conquest, the head of the Haifa CID, then transferred to a cell in the Kishleh, where she was kept for a week.
In 1944, she finished her studies at the Gymnasium and went to perform her year of national service at a kibbutz in the Upper Galilee, but the police required her to present herself every single day at border patrol post, and once a week at the police headquarters in Metula.
In 1946, she married Meir Landsberg (who changed his name to Merhav), who had returned from exile in Africa. Then she continued studying at the HaOvdim teachers’ seminary in Haifa, completing her training. As the War of Independence began, she was pregnant with their first daughter (who died in 1950 of polio). The couple moved to Jerusalem in 1951.
They had another daughter and son. The family spent 1954-1956 in Switzerland, as her husband represented Israel Bonds. Once they returned, she became a superintendent of kindergartens in the Jerusalem Municipality, and she had her own kindergarten in the Nahalaot neighborhood.
In 1958, she pursued a bachelor’s and then a master’s degree in archeology at Hebrew University. In 1963, they left Israel again, this time for New York, where her husband worked at the United Nations. She pursued Ancient Near Eastern studies at Columbia University. The family returned in 1968, and from then on Rivka worked at Jerusalem’s Israel Museum, for a quarter-century, running the Ancient Eastern Cultures Department, which she founded. She served in this position until her retirement.
Her husband Meir passed away in 1999.