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Ahead of an anticipated vote on recognizing Yom Kippur as an official United Nations holiday, B’nai B’rith International leadership penned an op-ed that was featured in the New York Times, in favor of the resolution.

The op-ed sparked debate on social media, and the merit of the topic has been discussed in several other online publications. Here is a review of the widespread media coverage:

The Jewish Week: The U.N. Needs A Day Of Atonement

There is a greater likelihood that the United Nations will vote to blame Israel for global warming than it would to put Yom Kippur on the official holiday calendar of UN Headquarters as called for in an op ed in Wednesday’s New York Times.

The article, by two top officials of B’nai B’rith, notes that the calendar already includes two Muslim holidays (Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr), two Christian holidays (Good Friday and Christmas) and six American federal holidays.

UN Headquarters, they point out, is in the city with the single largest Jewish population in the diaspora and in the country with the second largest Jewish population in the world. Jewish communities can be found in 120 of the UN member states.

Israel’s assailants at the United Nations often assert that they respect Jews and Judaism — and reserve their shrill disdain only for Israeli policies and Zionism

Here’s a chance to demonstrate they are sincere and that their differences with Israel really are political not religious or racial, say the authors, Daniel S. Mariaschin and David J. Michaels. 

In addition to showing respect for a religion U.N. members claim to respect, the authors offer a practical reason as well for adopting the proposal:

Important United Nations events — even, sometimes, meetings related to Israel — have repeatedly been scheduled on major Jewish holidays, forcing Jewish diplomats and representatives of civil society to choose between their professional duties and their faith and families.

Last month 32 nations — including Argentina, Canada, Israel, Nigeria and the United States — declared support for adding Yom Kippur to the UN calendar, and the proposal was sent to a committee.

Secretary General Kofi Annan noted that “it has sometimes seemed as if the United Nations serves all the world’s people but one:  the Jews.” 

Yom Kippur would be a good opportunity for the United Nations to atone for this oversight and follow the advice of Secretary General Ban Ki Moon by making the world body “a place where Jews and the State of Israel can feel at home.”

National Post (Full Op-Ed Posted)


The United Nations is headquartered in the United States, the country with the most Jews outside Israel, and in New York City, which has the single largest Jewish population in the Diaspora. 

Two of the 10 holidays are Christian (Good Friday and Christmas) and the other six are American federal holidays. None is Jewish.