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UN: Yom Kippur now an official holiday

  • UN Yom Kippur
The United Nations announced on Friday that it will recognise Yom Kippur as an official holiday from 2016. No official meetings will take place on the hallowed Day of Atonement at their New York headquarters and all Jewish employees of the UN will be able to miss work without it being considered leave. The matter was raised last May and Israel’s UN Ambassador, Ron Prosor, is pictured telling journalists on 10 July last year that it was "about time Jewish employees at the UN won’t be obligated to work on Yom Kippur." UN Photo/Evan Schneider.
by ANT KATZ | Dec 20, 2015

The Israeli initiative on the issue was launched in May 2014 after UN Ambassador Ron Prosor sent a letter asking the 192 other UN envoys to join Israel’s campaign for the holiday’s recognition. “It is about time Jewish employees at the UN won’t be obligated to work on Yom Kippur,” Prosor wrote.

Ambassadors from 32 countries had signed the letter in support of recognition.

Now, starting in 2016, no official meetings will take place on Yom Kippur at the UN’s New York headquarters, and Jewish employees there will be able to miss work without using vacation hours, the Times of Israel reported Friday. Other religious holidays that enjoy the same status are Christmas, Good Friday, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

UN Yom Kippur2


RIGHT: Ambassador Ron Prosor, addressing a UN Security Council meeting on July 10 2014, said it was "discrimination" on the part of the UN to recognise Christian and Muslim holidays, but not Yom Kippur  -Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider.

“This is a modest, common-sense step toward fairness for personnel at the United Nations and respect for Judaism as a major world religion,” a statement by B’nai B’rith said. “It should be emulated at the UN’s offices across the world, and built upon across an international system in which politics often supplant mutual respect and equality.”

The statement added that B’nai B’rith “strongly commend the diplomats of the United States, Israel and many other nations who made possible the progress seen yesterday.”

Yotam Goren, a diplomat who worked for Israel’s UN mission, told JNS.org in June 2014: “The issue of Yom Kippur is of a cultural/religious nature…It can be an issue that bridges divisions and speaks to the universal values we all hold closely, including reconciliation, forgiveness, and tolerance. The hope is that these values will prevail and be heralded by all member states in the upcoming negotiations.”

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