A diplomatic effort that began two years ago bore fruit on Friday, when the UN Secretariat announced that Yom Kippur will be recognized as an official UN holiday.
The efforts to make Yom Kippur a recognized holiday at the Unuted Nations began during previous Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor’s tenure. The point of it was to get UN member states to acknowledge the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.
About 60 members supported the move in the past, among them the US, Canada, and the European Union, but because of the objections of Arab states, headed by Saudi Arabia, it kept getting pushed back.
A year ago, a general acknowledgement in principle that Yom Kippur was a holy day to the Jewish people was accepted, and ever since then Arab states have worked to delay the official recognition.
Current Ambassador Danny Danon kept the efforts going quietly, along with the American delegation headed by Ambassador Samantha Power.
“Yom Kippur is the holiest day for the Jewish people, the UN should have recognized it many years ago,” he said. “This is a correction of a historic wrong directed at the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”
Up to now, ten holidays have been officially recognized by the UN, including Christmas and Eid al-Fitr, an important Muslim holiday which concludes the month of Ramadan.
The UN recognition of Yom Kippur doesn’t just mean the recognition of the holiday’s importance to the Jewish people, but also allows Jewish UN workers to take it as a day off. In addition, the decision means that no official discussions or votes will take place during Yom Kippur, unlike what was being done up to now.