After a year-long diplomatic struggle and a little help from the United States, Yom Kippur is officially a United Nations holiday.
The decision is a victory for the Israel’s Mission to the United Nation and means that for the first time, a Jewish holiday is among the 11 world holidays recognized by the United Nations.
Earlier this year, the United Nations made an overture towards recognizing Yom Kippur when, on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, U.N. workers were given the day off.
However, at that point in the time, the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General made it clear that while it may have looked like the U.N. was recognizing Yom Kippur, it was not.
When asked by the press corps why U.N. offices were closed, Spokesman Stephane Dujarric replied, back then, “It’s in celebration of Eid.”
Then when a reporter pointed out that the day off actually did not fall on Eid, Dujarric was flustered.
“Don’t come to work. It’s Eid,” Dujarric replied. “That’s all I’m telling you. You can… Talk to high powers about this.”
Now, thanks to some diplomatic maneuvering by UN Ambassador Samantha Powers, who prevented the anti-Israel majority from blocking the move, next year, there will be no question why offices are closed on the Jewish holy day.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon gave the United States delegation credit for their role in the “decisive victory” for the Jewish community and Israel.
“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,” he said.
The Israeli ambassador also said the recognition of the Jewish holiday is long past due.
“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 noted, adding that at last there is “an official place for the Jewish religion in the world’s parliament.”