UN headquarters (AP/Adam Rountree) (AP/Adam Rountree)
UN headquarters

For the first time, the Jewish Holy Day of Yom Kippur has been recognized at the United Nations as an official holiday.

A campaign launched by Israel in 2014 to have Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, formally validated as an official holiday by the United Nations was a success. On Thursday, the UN announced its decision to recognize the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

This means, in a practical sense, that beginning in 2016, no official meetings will take place at UN headquarters on Yom Kippur, and Jewish employees will be permitted to take the day off without losing a vacation day.

The decision is good news for members of the UN’s Israeli delegation.

Ten religious holidays, including the Christian observance of Christmas and Good Friday as well as the Muslim festivals of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, had already been recognized by the world body. Prior to recognition of Yom Kippur, no Jewish holiday had been acknowledged since the establishment of the UN in October 1945.

“Yom Kippur is the Jewish people’s holiest day, and the UN should have recognized its importance many years ago,” Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, stated. “This is the amendment of a historical injustice against the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”