The United Nations will recognize Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement as an official holiday. This is the first time in its 70-year history that the U.N. has recognized a Jewish holiday.
While Jewish newspapers The Times Of Israel and The Forward were eager to point out that Yom Kippur is now given the same status at the U.N. as Christian and Muslim holidays Christmas and Eid, this isn’t entirely the case.
Yom Kippur will still not be given the same priority status for full closure of the New York campus as American holidays Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day or Thanksgiving Day; Christian holidays New Year’s Day, Good Friday and Christmas Day or Muslim holidays Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.
However, no official meetings will take place on Yom Kippur, at the New York headquarters, in East Midtown. Staff members who choose not to work on Yom Kippur, will not miss important opportunities to vote in UN resolutions. Additionally, they will no longer have to take a sick day, or personal day, at their own expense.
According to an internal memo from the UN’s Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management., “In the interest of respecting the diversity of United Nations staff members, staff members may choose to observe (Yom Kippur as) one of the following six holidays as a floating holiday.”
The “floating holiday” list includes Orthodox Christmas; Presidents' Day; Orthodox Good Friday; Day of Vesak, that celebrates the birth of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism; Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights; and Gurpurab, the birthday of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion.
Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to United Nations, lauded the decision, and said; “There is finally an official place for the Jewish religion in the world’s parliament.”
“Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people, and the U.N. should have recognized this holiday many years ago,” Danon said.
Danon’s Mission of Israel to the United Nations, said in a statement that Israeli cooperation with the United States “prevented the anti-Israel majority at the UN from blocking the resolution” to recognize Yom Kippur. Ambassador Danon specifically thanked US Ambassador Samantha Power, for her efforts in getting Yom Kippur recognized.