Recognize Yom Kippur as official holiday, 32 countries tell UN


(JTA) — Some 32 countries wrote a letter to a committee of the United Nations General Assembly in support of Israel’s bid to have the international body recognize Yom Kippur as an official holiday.

The letter, dated June 30, was sent to the General Assembly’s Committee on Conferences on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported. It calls for Yom Kippur to be recognized beginning in 2015.

The letter says that the U.N. “recognizes the major festivals of many of the world’s main religions, yet Judaism is not represented,” according to the AP.

“We believe that the United Nations calendar should reflect the organization’s founding principles of coexistence, justice and mutual respect,” the letter said. “We urge the United Nations to correct this inequity and recognize the holiest day of the Jewish faith.”

The United Nations in New York recognizes 10 official holidays, most of them national holidays in the United States: New Year’s Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving. The list also includes the Christian holidays of Christmas and Good Friday, and the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor said in May, when Israel launched its campaign to include Yom Kippur on the calendar of official holidays, that the exclusion of one of the most widely observed Jewish holidays amounts to discrimination. “There are three monotheistic religions, yet only two are recognized by the U.N. calendar. Such discrimination at the U.N. must end,” Prosor said.

The ambassadors of 32 countries signed the letter: U.S., Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Bahamas, Canada, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Dominica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Micronesia, Monaco, Nauru, Nigeria, Palau, Panama, Philippines, Rwanda, Samoa, Seychelles, South Sudan, Suriname, Togo, Uruguay and Vanuatu.

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