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B’nai B’rith International has been a leader in advocating for the United Nations to place Yom Kippur, the most sacred day of the Jewish year, on the list of Christian, Muslim and other holidays officially recognized by the world body. In recent months B’nai B’rith has challenged members of the United Nations to quickly embrace a new initiative to add Yom Kippur, pushing the issue in a New York Times op-ed and bringing the conversation to the international forefront.

With the United Nations set to make a decision on Yom Kippur, B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs, Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin and Director of U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs David J. Michaels wrote to U.N. missions urging them to support the Yom Kippur initiative.

In the letter, Jacobs, Mariaschin and Michaels write:

“The Jewish people have observed Yom Kippur, the most sacred day of the Jewish calendar, for thousands of years. It is a day when millions of Jews seek forgiveness and self-improvement in the hope of creating a better life and, ultimately, a better world. ‎

We believe that the time has come for the United Nations to add Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, to its calendar. ‎‎The initiative to add Yom Kippur to the UN calendar would represent a modest but meaningful step in helping the UN to better live up to its Charter’s embrace of diversity and respect for peoples large and smal‎l.‎

The UN is headquartered in New York City, the city with the largest Jewish population in the Diaspora. There is an active Jewish presence at UN Headquarters, among secretariat staff, diplomats, and NGO representatives alike. These contributors to the work of the UN, hailing from some of the roughly 120 UN member states where organized Jewish communities can be found, should not be forced to choose between violating their religious beliefs and neglecting professional demands.

We strongly urge you to support adding Yom Kippur to the UN calendar, alongside other religious and civil holidays.”

Click here to read the full letter.