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Orthodox Woman Regains Job Lost over Sabbath Observance

A Jewish woman whose contract with the United Nations Development Program was not renewed in April because she would not work on the Sabbath was reinstated Monday.

Danielle Hartweg, an Austrian citizen, had been leaving her job as a computer operator at the UNDP early on Fridays during the winter months, so that she could return home before the Jewish Sabbath.

Contacted at her office here by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Hartweg said of her reinstatement, “I am very happy to be back at work and I am very satisfied the way things were worked out.”

She declined further comment, referring all questions to Dr. Harris Schoenberg, director of United Nations Affairs for B’nai B’rith International, who was instrumental in helping her regain her job.

Schoenberg said Monday that Hartweg not only received a new contract with the UNDP, but also received a promotion.

“The decision to reinstate Ms. Hartweg establishes an important precedent in dealing with religious discrimination cases at the U.N.,” Schoenberg told JTA.

He said that while discussing the case with UNDP officials, he found them to be sensitive to the U.N. commitment to human rights and freedom of religion.

The decision to give Hartweg a new contract “reaffirms UNDP’s commitment to abide by the standards laid down in the U.N. Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the 1981 declaration against religious intolerance,” Schoenberg said.

Schoenberg said that Hartweg attends religious services at Lincoln Square Synagogue on Manhattan’s West Side.

He said that Hartweg first appealed for assistance in her case to Peter Hohenfellner, the Austrian ambassador to the United Nations, but he said he could not help her.

She turned to Schoenberg at the advice of her U.N. counsel, Hans Janitschek of the U.N. Fund for Population Activities. Schoenberg praised Janitschek for his support of Hartweg.

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