BY RUTH LEVINE
Jews hold that just months after the people of Israel left Egypt in the year 2448 from creation (1313 BCE), they sinned by worshipping a golden calf. Moses ascended Mount Sinai and prayed to God to forgive them. After two 40-day stints on the mountain, full Divine favour was obtained. The day Moses came down the mountain (the 10th of Tishrei) was to be known forevermore as the Day of Atonement—Yom Kippur. It is the holiest day of the year in Judaism – as religiously important, perhaps, as Easter Sunday is to Christians. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services. This year Yom Kippur 2019 will begin in the evening of Tuesday, 8th October and ends in the evening of Wednesday, 9th October – work days for most Brits.
Of course Easter Sunday is a Sunday, Christmas Day is a bank holiday – some BBC Christian workers choose to work on these religious days but others do not. There was dispensation given to Muslim workers at the BBC for Eid al-Fitr 2019 which began in the evening of Monday, 3rd June and ended in the evening of Tuesday, 4th June – although Eid al-Fitr is not a recognised public holiday in the United Kingdom, many schools, businesses and organisations allow for at least a day’s leave to be taken for religious celebrations, including the BBC.
So why are the BBC arranging what are known as “away days” for some of their staff this year – who they know full well to be practising Jews – during Yom Kippur? Why did BBC bosses in London when approached by BBC Jewish staff who work in television just shrug their shoulders when the Day of Atonement was mentioned in respect to requiring time off work, or exemptions from these obligatory away days? Also, why are some Jewish staff being turned down from absence requests during Yom Kippur, as evidence of this has come to light also?
This is shameful not only because of the apparent ignorance on display from an organisation that plasters its walls with “Diversity” posters. This is the most blatant expression of double standards that leaves Jewish staff feeling put out and – I hate to get into the lily-livered language of postmodern Marxism but let’s face it, the BBC is swamped by such language – victimised and relegated.
Pull your socks up, BBC. You have a week to act. Not only with respect to your television staff in London and across the UK but also with your radio teams and all other employees and staff. It’s one day a year – our most important day of the year. When will you actually begin to practise this so-called diversity that you preach?