AFP
Last updated: 16 May, 2014

Israel campaigns for official UN recognition of Yom Kippur

Israel’s UN mission Friday launched a campaign to get official UN recognition for Yom Kippur, the most sacred Jewish holiday, alleging “discrimination.”

The United Nations has decreed 10 official holidays, including Christmas and the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr, but there is no corresponding Jewish holiday recognized on the body’s official calendar, said Israel’s UN envoy Ron Prosor in a letter to his colleagues.

“On the one hand, the United Nations advances values of cooperation and engagement among nations, and on the other hand, it is prioritizing one religion over the other,” Prosor said.

“There are three monotheistic religions, yet only two are recognized by the UN calendar. Such discrimination at the UN must end,” he added.

The calendar of official holidays is decided by the General Assembly, which added Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, the two main Muslim holidays, to the list in 1998.

Jews observe Yom Kippur (literally the “day of atonement”) each year in September or October. The day, dedicated to fasting and prayer, marks the end of the 10 “days of awe” — to seek forgiveness for the past year’s transgressions — that start with the Jewish new year on Rosh Hashanah.

The holiday is observed by many Jews, even non-practicing ones.