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Eid Gives U.N. Jews Rosh Hashanah Off

When they work in Turtle Bay

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The United Nations headquarters.(Wikipedia)

It was brought to our attention that United Nations employees in New York, that most Jewish of cities where the international organization is headquartered, will have the second day of Rosh Hashanah (Friday) off, but not the first (Thursday). Why? Because Friday happens also to be Eid ul-Fitr, the Islamic celebration of the end of the holy month of Ramadan, which is one of the ten official holidays for U.N. employees in New York. I looked into the matter a little bit further—driven, to be perfectly honest, in part by the U.N.’s less-than-stellar record on Jewish issues in recent years. But turns out this is kosher.

U.N. spokesperson Farhan Haq explained to me that, in each country, U.N. employees get ten paid holidays, with the ten days left up to the host countries (so in Russia, for example, they get Eastern Orthodox Christmas, or January 7, off). In New York, though, holidays have been decided by the votes of all member countries—in other words, of the General Assembly—and the ten holidays they have come up with are: New Year’s Day (January 1), President’s Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Eid ul-Fitr, Eid al-Adha (which commemorates Abraham’s refusal to sacrifice Ishmael—yes, to them it’s Ishmael, not Isaac), Thanksgiving, and Christmas (Western). No Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, though—and this in New York, where even the schools (though not the city) have the day off!

Honestly, though, while the small number of explicitly Jewish nations (one) in the General Assembly has at various times led to some pretty nasty things, this clear is not driven by animosity. Anyway, Jewish employees will get one day of Rosh Hashanah off to spend in observance, and, like most other Jews, can take the other one off themselves. Muslim employees (like Haq, as he noted to me) get Eid to observe. And Christian employees? They just get the day off. But we’re used to them catching the breaks.

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This policy seems pretty unfair. Majority rules on days off? What about the other minority’s religions? Like Sikhs or Buddhists?

Do Jews have to take the second day off unpaid?

Seems to me Jewish employees should be able to take Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur off as vacation days, even if they trade for other days.

I disagree. This is another way U.N. shows its not really united after all.

Wouldn’t it be better in the US (and I do know that the UN is not in the US, even though it is sited in NY)to offer a certain number of paid days off that workers could use as they saw fit, so that if you observe a particular religion, you could use your days for your holidays without risking the appearance of the establishment of religion that the First Amendment so clearly prohibits? So if you get, say 6 holidays, you could use them for Christmas, New Years, Good Friday, etc., or Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, etc., or the Eid, or Diwali, or whatever. It would be a value-neutral solution to this problem in so many ways.

2 Eid days off?

Interestingly, in New York they also have alternate side of the street parking rules suspended for several Muslim holidays because every Jewish holiday has alternate side of the street parking rules suspended. But Jews are prohibited from driving on holidays and I don’t think Muslims are so this is some kind of PR thing.

Well, okay. We can agree that this particular thing doesn’t add much to the institution’s general rot. But a general rot there still is. How many of the member countries that voted are liberal democracies? That the ones that aren’t should have voting rights on this issue isn’t more insane than that they should have voting rights on other issues. I.e., the general rule’s insane, and the reason this particular case isn’t too remarkable is that non-democratic nations get to vote on all sorts of things in the UN that are fare more consequential than whether Jews get just one day off for RH or two.

Shana tova.

shriber says:

“Honestly, though, while the small number of explicitly Jewish nations (one) in the General Assembly has at various times led to some pretty nasty things, this clear is not driven by animosity. Anyway, Jewish employees will get one day of Rosh Hashanah off to spend in observance, and, like most other Jews, can take the other one off themselves. Muslim employees (like Haq, as he noted to me) get Eid to observe. And Christian employees? They just get the day off. But we’re used to them catching the breaks.”

So you are saying it’s ok to discriminate against Jews and that we should just grin and bear it.

I say nuts to that.

The fact that the UN gives Muslim employees at the UN in New York Eid ul-Fitr, Eid al-Adha off but not Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is outrageous.

But then liberal Jews will always find a way to justify anti-Jewish practices.

You know…I am tired of Jews tears and cries for injustice while they get armed up and terrorize Palestine. There were GIVEN a chunk of land to call their own country and even that is not enough.

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Eid Gives U.N. Jews Rosh Hashanah Off

When they work in Turtle Bay

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