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UN recognizes Yom Kippur as official holiday

Shofar and Hebrew prayer book
Shofar and Hebrew prayer book

Following diplomatic efforts made by both Israeli and American delegates, the United Nations on Thursday recognized Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, as an official holiday.

Israel’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Danny Danon, led the charge on behalf of the Israel Mission, and worked closely with the United States permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Samantha Power.

The decision to recognize the holiday, the first Jewish holiday among 11 official UN holidays, has been lauded by the Israeli delegation to the United Nations.

The other official holidays are the Christian holidays of Christmas and Good Friday, the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, and six major American holidays: New Year’s Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labour Day and Thanksgiving.

“Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish People, and the UN should have recognized this holiday many years ago. Today we finally have an official place for the Jewish religion in the World’s parliament,” Danon said in a statement. Jewish UN employees will now be able to observe the holiday without using a vacation day, and official meetings can no longer take place on the holiday.

“The American-Israeli Partnership at the UN stands for good versus bad and right versus wrong. The value of justice, anchored in Jewish tradition and thought, will finally find its place in the family of nations, and be a part of the UN’s history,” Danon added.

Last year, 32 ambassadors signed letters urging the UN to recognize Yom Kippur, including Canada, the U.S., Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Bahamas, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Dominica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Micronesia, Monaco, Nauru, Nigeria, Palau, Panama, Philippines, Rwanda, Samoa, Seychelles, South Sudan, Suriname, Togo, Uruguay and Vanuatu.

According to the Israeli mission to the United Nations, cooperating with the United States on this initiative “prevented the anti-Israel majority at the UN from blocking the resolution” to recognize Yom Kippur.