Ambassadors to the United Nations from no fewer than 32 countries have asked that Yom Kippur be recognized as an official UN holiday.
The UN currently marks 10 holidays, but none of them are Jewish. Among the recognized holidays are Christmas and Good Friday (Christian) and Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha (Muslim).
The 32 ambassadors wrote a letter to the General Assembly this past July, JNS.org reports, requesting that Yom Kippur – an annual day with a "universal" message – be added to the list.
The letter described the messages of Yom Kippur as follows: “Every person’s deeds are weighed on the heavenly scales of justice and the blessings of the coming year are determined by the good deeds performed in the service of others." The ambassadors wrote that these messages deserve to be marked by the United Nations.
The idea was first launched by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor this past May. He sent his own letter to his 192 UN ambassadorial colleagues, asking them to join Israel’s campaign to have the holiday recognized. This would not only "upgrade" the status of the Jewish Day of Atonement internationally, but would also allow Jewish UN employees to have a day off on the holy day.
Several major Jewish organizations and leaders are also advocating for the cause. B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin co-wrote a New York Times op-ed in favor of the campaign in August. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the World Jewish Congress have also come out in favor.
Appropriately, a key prayer in the Yom Kippur liturgy states, "Place Your fear, our G-d, upon all Your creations… and all should be in awe of You… Let them all become one union to do Your will whole-heartedly."