The UN on Thursday recognized Yom Kippur as an official United Nations holiday. And so, from next year on, there will be no official meetings at the UN on Yom Kippur and employees can take the day off and go out to not have lunch.
The decision was reached through a collaboration between Israel’s UN Envoy Danny Danon and Ambassador Samantha Power, his US counterpart.
“Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish People, and the UN should have recognized this holiday many years ago,” Danon said on Thursday, noting with pride that “today we finally have an official place for the Jewish religion in the world’s parliament.”
The fact that the US was behind the move helped persuade the usual anti-Israel block to let the Jews have this one, which makes it the second time they’ve been nice to the chosen people since Danon has been chosen to represent Israel in the world body.
“The American-Israeli partnership at the UN stands for good versus bad and right versus wrong,” Danon stated, adding, “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.”
To date, the UN has recognized 10 official holidays, including Christmas and Eid Al Fitr, but no Jewish holidays. Thursday’s decision establishes Yom Kippur as an official UN holiday, allowing Jewish UN employees to observe the holiday without tapping their banked holiday hours.
Last year, 32 UN members submitted the resolution for the organization to recognize Yom Kippur as an official holiday, noting the universal message of the Jewish Day of Atonement. Of course, no one told those friendly folks that the central portion of the prayers on Yom Kippur revolves around the ancient ceremony at the Temple, which would have been blocked nowadays by the Jordanian Waqf.
Yom Kippur is a scriptural holiday that commands Jews to abstain from eating, wearing shoes, washing, smearing one’s body with fragrant oils and having intimate relations. There is no obligation at all on non-Jews to observe the holiday. In fact, a more fitting day for the UN to embrace would have been Sukkot, which was commanded as a holiday that encourages some gentile participation.