July 18, 2024
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Historical Move: UN Recognizes Yom Kippur as Official Holiday

After Israel had launched a campaign in 2014 to have Yom Kippur recognized as an official holiday in the United Nations calendar, the international body decided on Thursday to formally recognize the Jewish Day of Atonement as a holiday.

As of 2016, no official meetings will take place on Yom Kippur at the international body’s New York headquarters, and Jewish employees there will be able to take time off work without using vacation days.

Former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor distributed a letter among UN ambassadors as a first step in a comprehensive campaign to highlight Israel’s request, paving the way for a General Assembly vote.

The UN had officially recognized 10 holidays, including Christmas and Eid al-Fitr. Absent from the list of official holidays, though, was a Jewish one. A holiday at the UN entails a day without meetings, committee hearings or official events. Several among Israel’s delegation to the UN had complained that being compelled to show up to work on Yom Kippur was troublesome.

The UN General Assembly convenes annually in September. In years when such meetings conflicted with Yom Kippur, a request was submitted and the assembly was then postponed to allow Israel to participate.

By Israel Hayom

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